Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Study Break

I'm taking a break from reading about Limited Partnership liability. (wouldn't you?) I've decided to put a movie on, and I'm watching Hoosiers.

It's difficult for me to name a favorite anything, but this movie is certainly on my list of favorite movies. It's quite an inspirational film, and great to watch the kids (though some of the "high school" players are balding, which is funny in its own right) learn how to play as a team. The director did an amazing job of emoting the demons the characters have to deal with without force-feeding it to us. The movie feels so natural - a trick that sometimes seems lost on movie makers. I recommend this movie.

Time to get back to work.


Recently a 15 year old girl reported to police that she was kidnapped and gang raped. The police immediately started searching for the assailants, an attempt to ensure that justice is done and that the perpetrators were punished for committing such a heinous and disgusting act.

A few days later, the girl recanted her story. She said that she made it up. Created it out of thin air, like Harvey the Rabbit (ask your parents). The police response was to arrest the girl for filing a false police report. The rationale? She committed a crime. "We regret, it's unfortunate it had to come to this, but she (the 15-year old) has to know there are consequences for lying. When people make false reports for aggravated assault, they go to jail," said a police spokesperson.

That makes sense, don't you think? A person commits a crime. That person gets caught. That person then gets punished. Isn't that how the system is supposed to work?

On the other hand, the girl's mother had a different suggestion. She concludes that the girl didn't lie about being raped. Instead, she lied about the identity of the men. She says that the men were adults, and the girl was 15 - there was no way she could consent to sex. "She need (sic) counseling. The girl cries herself to sleep every night. You think she need (sic) to be arrested?"

I don't really see a problem with this argument, either. I think these are two valid arguments stemming from the situation. I would probably lean towards the arrest, and then a light sentence at trial, if the facts are as they are. She did lie in a police report, according to the information available here, and that does warrant punishment or counseling.

Here's the real problem, though, and the one that I think really hurts the mom's argument is her suggested reason that the police arrested her daughter. It's not because the daughter filed a false report, rather it's because the police are "embarrassed," and are trying to humiliate her daughter (she was arrested at school). It's not on the link above, but she made mention of it on the report last night on the news. She suggests that the police are embarrassed that they went off and searched and didn't know enough and now they're embarrassed that they've been made to look bad.

The police did their job and zealously searched according to a formal complaint filed by a minor alleging sexual assault. The report was false. The police are wrong, according to the mother, for charging the person who made the report, because they shouldn't have done their job so zealously. Does that make any sense at all? Look at it from a different perspective. What if the girl had made the report and the police delayed their search, and kept asking for more details, more information? Police often have to carry on their searches on incomplete information. Had they delayed, they'd have heard cries of outrage from the mother as well as the community. They would have been accused of not helping the girl who needs the help, et cetera.

I empathize with the mother's position. I don't think she's right with her assertion. I think that she has misdirected her ire, and instead of getting mad at the police for doing their job, she should be mad at her daughter for lying to the police in the first place.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Military Anecdote

The following story was related to me by one of my friends while I was in the Air Force. For ease of storytelling, I'll relate it in first person, with minimum license.

When I was a new airman at DLI, when we were called to an MTM's (Military Training Manager, the NCOs in charge of training for the squadrons), First Sergeant's or the flight or squadron commander's office, we were to stand next to the door at parade rest until called in. One day, while I was waiting to talk to an MTM, the Flight Commander, a second lieutenant (note: probably about 23 years old) passed by one of the MTMs, a Chief Master Sergeant - Chief. The Chief, holding his coffee, was stopped by the Lieutenant - LT. LT's purpose for stopping Chief was to criticize the chief for his collar. Apparently, Chief's collar was wrinkled, and LT wanted to notify Chief of this deficiency and remind Chief of his duty to set the example for all us young impressionable airmen.

As LT finished his dressdown, Chief looked at him, cocked his head to one side, and stated very loudly, emphatically, and clearly, and in front of all the airmen waiting for appointments and those airmen on detail (cleaning the squadron) - "F--- you, Lieutenant!" He then took a drink of his coffee and walked into his office.

LT was somewhat upset at being shown up by this NCO and stormed into Chief's office to dress him down some more. Some shouting ensued, and quickly, the commander showed up to find out what happened. LT explained how Chief showed no respect for rank and authority and was insubordinate and rude in front of all the airmen. The commander then looked at Chief. Chief, at least a 25 year military veteran, said "He told me to fix my uniform."

The Commander let the lieutenant know that it mightn't be the best idea to criticize such an experienced man, who earned his stripes and put in more than his time. He then requested to Chief that he hold his tongue in front of the airmen.

Moral of the story: Superior rank does not mean superior experience or even authority. The same holds true everywhere.

Courthouse Excitement

On the way to school every morning, I drive by the Federal Courthouse on Rusk. Usually you see a couple hurried-looking people walking briskly to or from the building, nothing too out of the ordinary. Today, however, I had to stop twice at the traffic light before the courthouse, because two of the four lanes of traffic on the courthouse block were full of news vans that were stopped, satellite dishes and antennae opened up and pointing to the sky. I saw scores of people holding news reporting items, cameras, microphones, clipboards, etc., all creating a perimeter from the corner to the entrance. As soon as I stopped at the red light at the end of the Courthouseblock, I saw a swell of activity, as all the news types stirred. Microphones lifted up higher, cameramen moved around for a better shot, and I heard dozens of reporter voices (you know what voice I mean) desparately trying to ask a question.

Today was the start of jury selection for the Enron trial, and verious people connected to the trial were at or on their way to the courthouse. I couldn't get a good look at the object of all the reporters' interest, but I could tell it wasn't Ken Lay. It might have been Jeff Skilling, perhaps, from my standpoint it looked vaguely like what I remember him looking like. Then again, it might have been the Shipley Do-Nut guy.

It was a nice bit of unexpected change from the boring commute routine.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Senator Sam Brownback (R - Kan) related a story to Rolling Stone magazine:

[The story is] about a chaplain who challenged a group of senators to reconsider their conception of democracy. "How many constituents do you have?" the chaplain asked. The senators answered: 4 million, 9 million, 12 million. "May I suggest," the chaplain replied, "that you only have one constituent?"

Brownback pauses. That moment, he declares, changed his life. "This" -- being senator, running for president, waving the flag of a Christian nation -- "is about serving one constituent." He raises a hand and points above him.

I find this disconcerting on one level. First, I must say I applaud this man's faith. I think it commendable that he feels strong enough in his faith to let his Christianity guide his decisions. There's a problem with his response, though. He discusses serving one constituent. I'm not certain, since I don't live there, but I'd be more than willing to believe that there are more than just Christians and Jews in Kansas. I'd even suggest that there are Buddhists, Confuscianists, Wiccan, Hindus, athiests, agnostics, etc. in Kansas. While I see nothing wrong with using your religion as your moral compass and using it to guide your decisions with regard to your life and even as a barometer with your votes, I think he's completely off base with suggesting that there be only one constituent. The senator is a public servant. His job, as I understand it, is to look out for the best interests of his state, his voters, the American people and the American government, not what is in the best interests of the deity of his choice.

Perhaps the spirit of the message is what's more important than the statement itself, but I find it a little disconcerting that he would make such a statement.

If we're in a situation where we're supposed to ensure that even the minority views get heard, and he states clearly that he intends to follow the majority view, then how will the minority view ever get a fair shot?

Not the best of ideas

Cindy Sheehan is apparently considering a run for Senate. Her rationale? "I think our Senator needs to be held accountable for her support of George Bush and his war policies." She continued by saying she felt Senator Feinstein was out of touch with Californians on the issue.

Ms. Sheehan said thatshe doesn'tharbor anyillusions about winning, but rather thinks that by running in the Democratic Primary, she can bring attention to the peace candidates.

Now, my opinion on the Cindy Sheehan matter is not the most well-informed, so take what I'm about to say for what it's worth. I think Cindy Sheehan has surrounded herself with groupies, the result of which being that she believes she and her message are bigger and better received than they actually are. I don't suggest that she's not earnest about her opinion, rather I think she's quite sincere about her desires and I respect her stance. Instead, I think that she's not as influential as those around her would suggest. In fact, one might suggest that she suffers from the same echo chambering that the President has been accused of suffering from.

I don't think she's clear on the current politics in California (indeed, neither am I, and won't comment on them here). I think it would be a bad idea for her to run, even in a primary. I think that there are far too many issues affecting California for her to try to hitch her pony to one inflammatory one in hopes of pushing her own agenda.

Philosophy through corporations

One of the cases we covered in Corporations last week was a Delaware (a corporation in Delaware, whodathunkit?) case, MM Companies, Inc. v. Liquid Audio, Inc., 813 A.2d 1118 (Delaware, 2003).

I won't bore you with the details of the case. Instead, I'll relate part of the ruling the Court delivered: "One of the most venerable precepts of Delaware's common law corporate jurisprudence is the principle that 'inequitable action does not become permissible simply because it is legally possible.'"

If we expand that away from a strictly corporate setting, it sounds like a pretty good overarching philosophy, don't you think? Imagine in politics, punishing politicians for obeying the letter of the law but not the spirit. Or education, or medicine.

Perhaps a good way to restate the ruling is "integrity, doing what you know is right, is more important than doing all you can without breaking any laws."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pharmacists suit

According to this article, "four pharmacists who refused to sign a pledge promising to dispense the morning-after birth-control pill sued Walgreen drug stores Friday, alleging they were illegally fired."

The reason they claim they were illegally fired is because they claim the pledge is contrary to Illinois law (where they sued). The law they cite is the Illinois Right of Health Care Conscience Act (745 ILCS 70). Section 7 of the Act states:

It shall be unlawful for any public or private employer ... including, but not limited to, a medical, nursing or other medical training institution, to ... impose any burdens in terms or conditions of employment on, or to otherwise discriminate against, any applicant, in terms of employment, admission to or participate in any programs for which the applicant is eligible, or to discriminate in relation thereto, in any other manner, on account of the applicant's refusal to receive, obtain, accept, perform counsel, suggest, recommend, refer, assist or participate in any way in any forms of health care services contrary to his or her conscience.
The law there sounds pretty clear. It sounds as though the pharmacists are not required to sign the pledge.

The problem comes with a different state law, which requires pharmacies that sell federally approved contraceptives to fill prescriptions for emergency birth control "without delay" if they have the medication in stock. (note: I can't find this law)

Using my astute law student analytical skills, and noting that I'm only a law student, not a lawyer, I will speculate on how I think this should turn out. I think that Walgreen's is right in that they have an obligation to uphold the law and distribute emergency contraception if they have it in stock, and their pharmacists are required to do the same. However, my guess is that they overstepped their bounds by requiring the pharmacists sign a pledge to do so. That condition of employment, assuming that the pharmacists' failure to sign was the proximate cause of their dismissal, appears to be on its face violative of Right of Health Care Conscience Act.

It's very interesting to see how the cases dissect the law to such small pieces.

Book liners, movie style

When you decide to buy a book, you don't just look at the cover or the title to decide whether it is something that interests you. You pick it up, look inside the jacket, and read the synopsis, to give you an idea what the movie is about. Or you read the recap on Amazon.com, or Barnes and Noble, orwhatever. At least, I do. I can't exactly speak for everyone.

For movies, the closest thing there is to a jacket liner is the preview or the commercial. The preview's job is to take snippets of the best parts of the movie, provide a very brief outline of the plot, and pique your curiosity.

Yesterday, the new movie "Big Momma's House 2" came out, with heavy television advertising. The advertising shows that the movie involves Martin Lawrence dressing in drag as an overweight woman - again. It shows a couple jokes, and a sight gag or two. What the commercial DOESN'T show is any semblance of a plot.

I read a review on the Detroit Free Press, where they gave the skeleton outline - an FBI agent is tracking (someone), and in order to get inside, poses as "big momma" in order to get a job as a nanny. "Comedy" ensues.

Now, that the studio chose not to give any hint of the plot of the movie, short of "man in drag" should be a hint that this is not a movie for the general audience, and rather a movie for those people who find Martin Lawrence humorous. I can tell you that I don't intend to watch the movie, and would be surprised if anyone I know watches it. Yet, I wouldn't be surprised to see this movie make quite a bit of money, which is a sad testimony of American filmmaking expectation.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Simple quiz

After what bird is the Alaskan town of Chicken named?

I'll post the answer in a couple days.

Just a reminder

Fan Death exists.

Publish or don't

I have excellent news! I have selected a topic on which to write my seminar paper for education law! I've got to write a minimum of 20 pages (which really isn't that much) on a topic of my choosing in the field of education law.

The topic I've chosen is intelligent design. My duty, which I've chosen to accept, is to explain the current law on the topic and devise a proposed course on ID that would pass judicial/constitutional muster. I'm actually excited about this, which is a change from my other writing assignments in law school, so perhaps that's a good omen.

Now to start the research!

Thursday, January 26, 2006


My assignment for Corporations for tomorrow is 38 pages, read, brief, and prepared to discuss. The topic is the allocation of legal power among the board of directors and the shareholders. This stuff reads like stereo instructions to me, and I'm having a lot of difficulty holding any real interest in it. Yet I plug on, because I need to learn how all this works.

Still, it's painful to read something three or four times and still not have a clue what it means. Perhaps I should quit law school and become an offshore fisherman, or a fast-food manager.

I pray that we will one day meet again

That was the senior quote of one of my good friends in high school. He had hoped to include that in the yearbook, where the seniors put their quotes, yet when he got his yearbook, the word pray was replaced with the word hope. Of course, to us 18 year olds, this was an outrage! The school abridged his right to free speech, and changed his words. What we couldn't see, of course, was the potential tacit approval of religion by the school in allowing the word pray. Personally, I still think that's a bit of a stretch, even in the context of establishment clause, but I can at least see it now.

Schools aren't allowed to impliedly endorse religion. Religion is something that is to be kept from school. That isn't to say that schools can't teach topics that have religious overtones, that would be nearly impossible. You can't teach history without discussing the Crusades, unless No Child Left Behind deems the Crusades unimportant. It's all but impossible for band, orchestra, or choir to perform classical music that doesn't have ties to religion. The thing is, you can teach about the existence of religion, you just can't prosthelytize (I'm not going to spell check that, so if it's wrong, I don't care).

One thing schools can't do is lead prayer. They can't start administrative meetings, school days, graduations, etc. with prayer, even if non-religious types are free to leave the room or not participate. I can understand that. If it were allowed, it would create an environment that was uncomfortable at the least for the non-religious or those of different religion. Additionally, it draws a very clear line of demarcation. This line extends to student-led prayer on school grounds. Again, this is a fairly bright line, and I can appreciate that. I had a friend in high school who roudnly criticized myself and several of my friends for not joining her and others in a prayer vigil between classes for a classmate who'd been hospitalized. I appreciated her desire to do so, but disagreed with the choice of venue and the cajoling nature of her argument.

Now, it's fairly well established in the public education realm that prayer and religion are personal items that can be utilized on a personal level - I can pray before lunch quietly to myself. There's nothing wrong with that. How does that extend to the military?

When I was in the Air Force, prior to several commander's calls - mostly at training squadrons (schools), the Squadron Commander had the base chaplain lead us in an invocation. At the school graduations, the flight commander did likewise. The commanders justified these acts by stating those who wished not to participate were free to not pray with everyone else. They still had to bow their heads and stay in the room, but they didn't have to pray.

I will say I have problems, especially after my entry into law school, understanding how prayer can not be allowed in public schools, which makes sense to me, but can be allowed in the military schools. I don't see any fundamental difference in many aspects - it's a school, it's government funded, it amounts to prosthelityzing, and it carries the implication of government endorsement of one religion. Even if we eliminate the school aspect of it, we have a situation where the military is compelling religious behavior under the rationale that some people want it.

I think the intention is honorable, I just think it's misplaced, especially in a melting pot environment such as the military.

Random Trivia

If you're average among the world, you will eat three spiders this year.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wednesday is Haiku Day

I almost missed it, but here it is:

Coca Cola is
The elixir of life, drink
It for happiness!

As always, I look forward to your contributions

America as an Idea and an Ideal

Jack Grant is a blogger at Random Fate as well as a regular contributor to The Moderate Voice. He has posted an article on both blogs (linked here) that would be impossible for me to summarize in any form. I highly recommend reading it, to get a very well-written perspective on life and liberty in America.

Home Sweet Homeless

Yesterday, Houston police participated in a downtown sweep aimed at removing the homeless in the area. The sweep was the result of many complaints from businesses and residents of the ten homeless encampments about the homeless in the area.

Some people (mostly homeless) complained that they had nowhere else to go and were getting the shaft - essentially being punished for being homeless.

Accompanying the police were representatives of homeless rights groups and shelters, who could help these homeless people get some help, if they desired. No homeless people were arrested, and some 10 of those dislocated elected to seek refuge in the shelters. Ten. Out of the scores that were displaced. The purpose of this sweep was to help these homeless people get the aid and support they need, and yet only ten chose to accept the help. The rest complained about being displaced and moved on to another location to be homeless.

The homeless problem, often, is one of election by the individual. A person chooses to become homeless, either consciously or unconsciously. From what I understand, in the majority of cases, the homeless are people who should be on medication, but stopped taking their medication and now are suffering from dementia or other such problems. But, usually, the overarching truth of the matter is that many homeless are homeless by choice. They don't want to be helped. They want to be anonymous, some face that you pass by. Someone who has no responsibilities, no obligations, nothing. These people live for handouts, free lunches, or whatever. I think that the police sweep was one of the most humane attempts to help these people that could have come.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I'm not a city guy. I know this. I'm just not comfortable in a metropolitan area. It's too crowded, I don't feel safe, I don't feel as though I can stretch my legs, etc.

Conversely, I don't know how long I could live in the country. I think I'd love the quiet and the open spaces, but I'd probably go stir crazy after a short while. What I need is a suburban location, convenient to what the city has, but not so close that I can feel the city around me.

I also need a place in the country where I can get away from everything. A place like the cabin. My grandparents bought the cabin some 30 years ago, as a refuge, a sanctum sanctorum, a getaway. The cabin is on a small lake in central Michigan. As a child, I'd go fishing on the lake, take the boat out to get some pike or bass. We'd go swimming in the deep spots (it's not a deep lake, only about 12-15 feet at the deepest). We'd go hiking and exploring in the woods around the lake.

I've not been to the cabin since 2000, and before that, it'd been about ten years since I'd been up there. While I'm sure I remember it more fondly now, and I know that if I spent an extended amount of time up there I'd not love it so much (it's a cabin, it's not that big), I think I could really benefit from a week or two up there. I'd like to get out away from everything and all the crowds. I'd like to take the children up to the cabin, so that they can get out and run and explore and discover for the first time all the things my cousins and I discovered for the first time when we were their age.

Some people want sports cars for their midlife crises. I'm different. I want quiet and space to breathe. I miss the cabin.

Say you, say me

One of the things that always interested me about criminal trials wherein the defendant was found guilty was the prepared speech given by the victim's family. Usually it goes something to the effect of "How dare you, now you've got your comeuppance. You're an evil creature who doesn't deserve the breath you're breathing." And so on. Victim's families make these statements, I assume, as a form of closure, their chance to demonize the convicted person.

This right is protected by a federal law that was enacted in 2004, the Crime Victim's Rights Act, which grants the families the right to be heard. This right to be heard, according to the Ninth Court of Appeals, is a literal right, that the families are allowed to speak, and not be limited to written statements, as District Court Judge Walter ruled.

I appreciate the urge to speak at a conviction, but I don't know how much it helps, outside a personal sense of retribution. If the person convicted did do it, and they are remorseful, your statements aren't going to help any, and in fact will make him (or her) feel worse about the situation. If they're not remorseful, then your statements fall on deaf ears, which doesn't help anyone. Finally, if the person convicted was actually innocent of the crime, then you've wasted your venom and ire on someone who isn't deserving of it, and who is already being punished for a mistake.

Heaven forbid I'm ever in a situation where I have the opportunity to speak at a person convicted of a crime against my family, but if I am, I think I will forego the speech.

Monday, January 23, 2006


In my apartment complex, we have a wide array of kids, most from the lower middle class/poverty section. Many of these kids come from broken homes, or have parents that work full time, or who have parents who work double shifts to make ends meet.

One of our old neighbors, who moved, was in my son's first grade class. He knocked on the door one evening, looking to play. "Can your son come out?" When I explained we were preparing to have dinner, the boy replied "We body cooy." I had to ask him to repeat what he said several times before I parsed out "barbequeing" from the sentence. His mother works full time as an hourly employee, and he is one of five siblings. I think he's the fourth, but I'm not sure. At any rate, he's obviously not gotten much one-on one parent-child time that can be so painfully beneficial to the educational process. I saw one of the class projects when I picked up the boy one day, and noticed that this particular child had trouble stringing together more than two letters, let alone making sentences. His mother moved apartments so that they can be in a different school district, because ours "doesn't do enough" to teach the kids. I don't think the school district is at fault here.

I also submit that this child would be turned down by any private school to which he applied. He can't meet the bare minimum expectations, and his mother can't/won't put in the time necessary to help him catch up. Vouchers won't get this child educated, as the private schools are blessed with the right of refusal.

Another boy in my son's class had a habit of pouring yogurt on the other children, and has been suspended more than once for fighting. He's got problems with anger, and is a disciplinary problem. The teachers at the school can't discipline him - that is a parent's job here. His parents don't discipline him, and won't let the school do anything to punish (detention?! Then you had better find a way for him to get home, because I'm not getting him!) the bad behavior. If his parents used vouchers to get him into another school, a private school, one that has a right of refusal, do you think they would accept such a child? Would you, if you didn't have to? How many private schools are there? There aren't enough seats in all the private schools in the country. They don't have to take this child, and they won't.

These are but two examples of what public schools are saddled with. They are required to take all students, by law - even illegal immigrants. However, when these problem children perform poorly, it's not their fault, it's the teachers'. Thus, the school boards suffer at the hands of No Child Left Behind and other such programs. The students who are accepted by private schools through voucher programs (in the places that have them) are not the ones who need the help. Indeed, it strips the school districts of the students who can improve the scores, or who keep the scores (that the private schools aren't required to reach) and leaves only the ones that are most in need of help. No Child Left Behind, vouchers, they don't address the problems, they provide blame and flashy "solutions." Something different, something better, is necessary.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Conveniently Located in Weare, N.H.

Justice Souter's home has come under attack in recent days (again) from Eminent Domain activists, who disagree with the majority ruling in last year's Kelo decision. They have placed a proposition on the local ballot to effect a taking of Justice Souter's home to build a "lost liberty hotel."

Takings by the government for a public purpose is legal, under the Fifth Amendment. The ruling in Kelo determined that the taking of private land as part of a major renovation project to improve the economy of a city, create new jobs, increase tax base and employment for the town constituted a legitimate government purpose. The detractors dislike that the ruling appears to give carte blanche to wealthy corporations who might like a certain spit of land in a neighborhood. I don't see the slope as quite that slippery, myself. I don't like takings; I actually think that people who buy their land should be allowed to own their land, but I can certainly see the need for the local government to care for the entire city, even at the sacrifice of a half-dozen families.

To that end, I think the activists are wrong. I don't think they fully appreciate what the ruling means or intends, and I think that they believe that they are doing "right" to teach Justice Souter a lesson, but they are not operating within the spirit or ruling of the decision.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Reading is Fundamental

The Boy is reading. He's in first grade, and he's currently reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. He chose to read this on his own - we prefer he reads books closer to his demographic, but it's fun to hear him try to read it. He's seen the movie, and thus is interested in reading the book. Can't fault that.

Probably the funniest part about it, is that, since he's seen the movie, he tries to pronounce things like they do in the movie. I can't tell you how fun it is listening to a seven year old Texas boy trying to read with a British Accent.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bad news, but not "bad" news

My daughter had to stay home from daycare today, due to a high fever. Strangely, she wasn't acting sick at all; just had a fever. So, I called the doctor, and took her in. Turns out she has a bit of an ear infection. That explains the fever. Anyway, some Amoxicilin and rest, and she'll be good as new.

Now for the bad news. The wife bought Fame, the first two seasons. She says she still likes the re-runs, which I don't believe, because I seem to recall the reruns being banned by executive decree during the cleansing of useless television shows, such as Gimme a Break, and Briscoe County, Junior.

Ahh, well.


Pretty close to a year ago, I wrote the managers of my old apartment complex. They had access control gates, but said that the gates were not for security "they're to keep people out." When I pointed out that the only real reason for keeping people out is the safety of the tenants - without tenants, there's no money, and the complex is valueless - I received a nice answer from the apartment managers, "We're not concerned with your safety."

I made sure to mention that to the apartment managers, who told me that they'd start work on repairing the access control gates, which hadn't worked since we moved in, the following Tuesday. That made me happy, thinking that I could effect change by simply writing a letter.

Unfortunately, my joy didn't last, inasmuch as while they began the repairs, they never finished the repairs. Now, many months later, after we moved out, the complex is in the news. The reason? There was a murder in the complex last night. Some unidentified man was shot and killed in the parking lot, just after midnight.

The general rule with apartments is that if they take measures to provide security - such as build access control gates, hire security guards, put up cameras, etc., then they recognize there is a need for that added security, and thus are under an affirmative obligation to continue to provide that security. If they don't, and someone is injured, the complex can be held liable for that injury. I don't suggest that the man wouldn't have been killed if the gates closed, but it would have been much more difficult for a trespasser with a gun to get in the complex to shoot him.

I'm so glad I don't live there anymore.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Random Trivia

Male cats that have both Black and Orange fur are always infertile.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wednesday is Haiku Day

One year ago I
Began this blog for fun, now
I'm glad for new friends

As always, everyone is welcome to contribute!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Law School With Children

Means reading up on professional responsibility in the dining room with Barney blaring in the living room.

Assisted Suicide OK - Court

The Supreme Court today ruled that Doctors in Oregon who use prescription medicine in the furtherance of the State's assisted suicide law may not be punished by a recent law passed through the Bush administration. The law was passed as part of Ashcroft's attempt to "punish" doctors who assist terminally ill patients to die - patients who are diagnosed with less than six months to live according to two doctors and who are of sound mind.

The ruling went 6-3, so it's unlikely that if Alito was on bench during deliberation that the outcome would have been different. Interestingly, in his dissent, Justice Scalia noted, "[the Court's ruling] is perhaps driven by a feeling that the subject of assisted suicide is none of the federal government's business. It is easy to sympathize with that position."

I agree with the decision. I don't like that the Bush administration, having lost on the subject of assisted suicide once, tried to undermine it through other means. Dirty tricks. Sometimes it's better to just let it be.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sicky-sick sick

You wouldn't know it to look at him, but the little boy is an evil genius. He's managed to bring this entire house to its knees over the last three days. Whatever it was that he had, he gave to me - and I firmly believe he felt as badly as he looked based on my experiences the last few days. The Kirsten has picked something up as well. She's using the holiday to catch up on her sleep. But, perhaps most interesting of all is that he managed to get the Girl sick. She didn't even know it, but got sent home from daycare with a 101 fever today.

And of course, to ensure his complete victory, he made it a point to wake up screaming every hour on the hour last night. Thus we've all been driven completely insane, exhausted, and subject to his every little whim.

All this from a 22 pound boy. Amazing.

I still haven't been able to do my reading for class on Wednesday. That's not good.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


I'm a weakling when it comes to Crunch Berries. As far as I'm concerned, there's no better cereal on the planet. My kids seem to be partial to Corn Pops, but my son has Honey-Nut Cheerios moments.

Friday, January 13, 2006

What is Free Speech?

A man in Kent County, Michigan was convicted of indecent exposure. His crime? He appeared in a comedy skit in 2000 where he exposed his genitals and filmed it with a voiceover joke.

His conviction was appealed, but the court rejected the appeal.

The basis of the appeal was that he was participating in free speech. His show was on public access, and he felt that he had the right to show whatever he wanted, indecent exposure notwithstanding. The Kent County assistant prosecutor noted that this wasn't a First Amendment case; that the first amendment deals with the right to an opinion, not the right to expose onesself on television. The Michigan Supreme Court decided that the questions the appeal presented should not be viewed by the court.

The question for you?
Is this a speech issue? Is it free speech to show your genitalia on public access television?

Sick child

Poor little guy. The youngest boy has something (cold? Flu? Plague? Scurvy?). He's just now starting to act sick, though he's had a fever since last night. I hope it's nothing that lasts too long; he's a good kid. It's always interesting to see the kids with the fight taken out of them, though. Makes them much easier to manage.

Right now, he's on the Recliner, watching Veggie Tales. Nothing like a talking cucumber to make you feel right as rain.

New Semester

Here we start the downward slope of school. Half done, if not necessarily well-begun.

This semester looks to be rather entertaining.

Agency and Partnership,
Wills, Trusts, and Estates,
Professional Responsibility,
Corporations, and
Education Law Seminar.

The education law will cover my substantive writing requirement, and the rest are all bar courses.

Unfortunately, I'm only taking 14 hours this semester, instead of 15, which means I'm going to have to make up at least one hour, either in intersession or during the summer. We're going to push for intersession, or possibly study abroad (I'm thinking Mexico, it's close, inexpensive, and short, only 2 weeks).

Anyway, we'll see. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thank goodness for conservative judges

Because if it weren't for them, who knows whose civil rights would be violated? Apparently, the poor don't count. According to this article, Michigan's Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Kolenda has "denied appellate counsel to several poor people and stated that he has no obligation or intention of following the Supreme Court's ruling [Halbert v. Michigan] in the future and caracterized the ruling as "incorrect" and "illogical."

Halbert v. Michigan was a Michigan Supreme Court case that struck down a law that prevented judges from appointing counsel to poor people who have pled guilty to appeal their sentences.

Apparently, this trial court judge believes that he's not required to follow the rule of law. Stare Decisis (which is fancy latin for precedence) apparently is up to the individual. If this were a liberal judge, they'd call him an activist; what do you call him when he's conservative, other than wrong?

Source: the Debate Link

Random Trivia

The Kilt was invented in 1727 by an Englishman named Thomas Rawlinson, because he thought traditional Scottish garb (plaid means blanket in Gaelic) was too cumbersome for efficient work by his Scottish employees.

The tartans were (essentially) invented by John and Charles Edward Stuart, two charlatans who claimed to be offspring of the British crown, and who created much of what is now considered traditional Scottish culture. The first tartans in the book on the Highland costumes numbered 76, over 50 of which were invented by the Stuarts specifically forthe book, first published in 1842.

This will get stuck in your head

Here come old flattop, he come grooving up slowly
He got joo-joo eyeballs, he one holy roller
He got hair down to his knees
Got to be a joker, he just do what he please

He wear no shoeshine, he got toejam football
He got monkey finger, he shoot coca-cola
He says I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together, right now, over me

He bag production, he got walrus gumboot
He got Ono sideboard, he one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knee
Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease
Come together, right now, over me

He roller-coaster, he got early warning
He got muddy water, he one mojo filter
He say, "One and one and one is three"
Got to be good looking 'cause he's so hard to see
Come together, right now, over me.

Courtesy John Lennon, the Beatles

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Weights, Hammers, Shuffleboard!

My friend Nuje (you'll see his blog linked to the side now) and I went out to a place up in the Woodlands the other day; he had to take his son to a birthday party. It was one of those multi-event places - bowling, pool, video games, lazer tag, etc. While his son was at the birthday party, Nuje and I relaxed, and had planned on playing pool. Then, we saw the shuffleboard table. We next made the decision to play that instead. Since neither of us remembered how to play, it took a minute to make up some rules. We had a rather good time playing, and it was apparent neither of us had played in years.

Considering we didn't know the rules, and had to make some up, we actually came quite close to hitting the actual rules for shuffleboard. It's great fun, and I look forward to playing again.

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Chilly this morning
Strange for Houston, land of the
December A/C

Or else

Mexican and Central American diplomats "demanded guest worker programs and the legalization of undocumented migrants in the United States," according to this Yahoo! article.

Unquoted, but surely thought in the heads of many was "or else we'll have to care for them."

The diplomats urged a reform to the current system that would include temporary visas as well as regulation of those moving to receptor countries.

I don't like the idea of temporary visas for people who entered the country illegally. I think it's wrong to reward people for breaking the law, and I certainly don't see this as any kind of deterrence factor.

I had more, but it's time to take the kids to school.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

'Tis better to give than receive

As mentioned yesterday, I needed a new AC adapter for my computer. The folks on the phone were kind enough to inform me that the delivery would be today. That made me happy.

Last evening, the blood center called and asked me if I'd be willing to make another donation. I said certainly. They asked me when, and I said (today) at 12:15, forgetting that I'd have my delivery on the same day. I remembered this morning, when I woke up and looked longingly at my computer. I considered calling the blood people and telling them I'd have to reschedule, because I had to wait for the delivery guy, but I decided against it, thinking that there'd be no way the delivery guy would come the same time as I was donating blood.

11:55 comes around, and no delivery guy. I decide I need to get on my way, and cross my fingers that there'd be no delivery while I was gone. As I start my engine, I look at the gas needle, and realize it's down below the "e." Darn. I had to stop to get gas. As soon as I start filling the tank at the station on the corner, I see a DHL truck drive by, down the road towards where we live. I realize this is a bad thing, as I am not home to greet the delivery guy, and my computer company uses DHL. So, I stop pumping gas (3 gallons), get in the car, drive home as quickly as possible, noting that the DHL guy pulled into an apartment complex a little before mine. I figure there's not going to be more than one delivery truck on my street, so I get home, acknowledging that I'm going to miss my blood appointment. Save lives, BAH! I need an A/C adapter!

About 5 minutes after I get in the house, there's a knock at the door, and voila! I have an A/C adapter. Then, after checking my e-mail (priorities, of course), I hop back in the car and drive to the blood center, which was more than happy to take belated blood. That made me feel good.

Moral of the story: give blood. It requires no work, you just have to sit there. You save lives, and you get to eat cookies. And don't buy my computer.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Last minute

The new semester begins next week. I had to come to school today to buy my books, and see if I can change one of my classes. I'm not quite the mental dynamo many of my classmates are, and I don't think I could handle taking five classes straight with no breaks in between. My mind can't hold that much. So, I've got to try to get into a Tuesday/Thursday class, or something, so I can have a bit of a respite.

In other news, my battery charger/AC adapter for my laptop has stopped charging my battery. Now it just chirps at me when I plug it in. This is the third problem I've had with the AC adapter in the last 9 months. I'm not too happy about that. Oh well. At least it's under warranty. I just hope I get the new adapter in the next few days, or else class will be difficult.

Wish me luck next semester. Only 3 to go!

Friday, January 06, 2006


I played baseball as a youth. I wasn't bad, until they started pitching the ball (long story). I honestly don't remember much about playing teeball as a child, other than making the all star team when I was nine and coming in first place. In fastpitch, my first team went 10-2. We lost the last two games of the year and finished second overall. It was disappointing.

What was the problem with playing baseball and losing? It made us want to play harder, try to do better. If we won, we got to cheer. My coaches taught us about sportsmanship, how to root for us and not against the other team. We won a few, and we lost a few, and I am better for it.

My son likes soccer. I played soccer for two years as a child and pretty much stunk. He's better than I, and plays at the YMCA. The Y doesn't keep score. Everyone wins, and everyone cheers, except for the occasional overcompensating dad (more on this shortly). I don't mind encouraging everyone to do well, and cheering everyone when they do. But I don't agree with the "everyone wins" part.

We were out househunting a while back, during baseball season, and we saw a sign on the side of the road advertising a team that was looking for a shortstop. He had to be 11-12 years old, and had to be "all star quality." Anything less would not be considered. I've heard of dads (usually the dads, but I'm sure occasionally the moms) getting into fights over the games, yelling at other parents, coaches, umpires, and players. They seem to believe that by being a very ardent fan of their child on Saturday, it will make up for the absence of parenthood during the week. The coaches in these leagues take the game far too seriously, as do the parents. It's a game. I don't like this "we must be the best or you're gone" part.

There must be a happy medium. I know there must, because there used to be. I'm willing to bet in small town America, it still exists. There is nothing wrong with trying to win. There is nothing wrong with succeeding, and being better at something than the others. When you lose, you often are compelled to go back and try harder, and that's something parents need to try to do. That's encouragement. It doesn't have to be "you did well enough," it can be "you did well, now let's try it again." Don't teach your kids complacency now; it'll stick with them. Teach them to try to excel. Sometimes they'll win, sometimes they'll lose. That's OK.

As for my part, I know what my tendencies can be. I know I'm prone to coaching my kid; trying to get him to do more. I'm know that I might come to a point where I become one of those parents I detest. As such, I try to distance myself from the games my son is in. That's OK, too. You can support your child without actually being present, even. Ask him or her about how he or she did. Talk to your child. It doesn't take fanatacism at the park to show you love your child. Really. My parents didn't attend all my games growing up, and I know they still loved me.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Day 12

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Twelve drummers drumming
Eleven pipers piping
Ten lords a-leaping
Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying

Five golden rings

Four calling birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree

No to vouchers

According to this Yahoo! article, the Florida Supreme Court has struck down the state's voucher program, which allowed students to use state funds to attend private schools. The court ruled that the program "diverts public dollars into separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools," which are the sole means set out in the state constitution for educating Florida children. Chief Justice Pariente wrote the opinion for the majority, and also noted that private schools are not uniform when compared with each other or the public system and are exempt from many standards imposed by law on the public schools, such as mandatory testing. The effect of the voucher program was that students were able to leave a public school, which had to meet state requirements and use public funds to attend private schools, which were not bound by such standards.

This ruling helps ensure that the public tax dollars go towards paying for public education expenses, to help the schools meet the standards by providing better pay for better teachers and better resources for education, as opposed to taking a stipend of money earmarked for public education and reserving it for private use. It will go towards fixing a problem for many students, as opposed to the few who left for private school (in Florida, about 24,000 students, which is undoubtedly a small total number of total students).

One of the arguments ruled on by the 1st Court of Appeals was that the voucher program violated the requirement of separation of church and state. This was not ruled on by the Supreme Court of Florida.

I like this ruling. I think it's better to work toward the good of the educational system, not try to take the students who have the means to get out and send them to schools that don't have to meet the state's standards.

The average frenchman goes through two bars of soap per year...

Not that that really has anything to do with this post.

When I was doing my undergraduate courses, one of the assignments we had dealt with researching the effectiveness of antibacterial soap. Basically, we had to determine whether or not antibacterial soap was any better than regular soap.
If you do any searches online for antibacterial soap, you're going to find that the majority of sites that praise it are soap making companies. The common thread among other sites, such as here and here, is that it is either no more beneficial or even harmful. Let's see what we have:

First, howstuffworks.com explains how soap works. You'll note, if you click on the link, that regular soap washes away bacteria (among other things) on the hands. This would suggest that killing the bacteria is unnecessary.

Second, in order for antibacterial soap to actually have any real effect, it has to be on the skin for at least two minutes. Most people don't have that kind of patience.

Third, it only works on bacteria. It has no effect on any viruses.

Fourth, it's antibiotics. I don't know about y'all, but I tend to try to avoid taking antibiotics when I'm not ill.

Fifth, it might create superbacteria, that is immune to antibacterial things. I'm sure we've all heard of resistant strains of things. It's no stretch to believe that the bacteria that doesn't die when in contact with Antibacterial soap and thus procreates, can produce many more bacteria that are immune.

Sixth, For those of you with septic tanks, The soap residue flushes into the tanks, which rely on bacteria to break down the waste. This means that you are effectively killing what you need to make your tank work. Bad things afoot there.

I don't know that antibacterial soaps are actually bad. I certainly don't think they are good, or any better than regular soap. And I think I'm going to try to avoid them whenever possible.

Random Trivia

Unlike an adult, a child aged six or seven months can breathe and swallow at the same time.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Day 11

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Eleven pipers piping
Ten lords a-leaping
Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying

Five golden rings

Four calling birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Two Thousand and Six
Here at last. Hope that it is
Filled with fun and joy

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Day 10

On the tenth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Ten lords a-leaping
Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying

Five golden rings

Four calling birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree

Where everybody knows your name

I remember hearing once, when Everybody Loves Raymond went off the air, that it was the last great sitcom on television. While that might not be completely true, as My Name is Earl and 2 1/2 Men are both quite good and clever, there does seem to be a dearth of quality sitcoms anymore. I don't think this is due so much to a desire to watch real crime shows (seriously, I can't handle another Bruckheimer cop show that's slick in appearance, but completely hollow on story). Instead, I think it comes from laziness in the writers. Too often, sitcom writers resort to stereotypes and/or sex/gas jokes as opposed to working to create humor. If you look at the really great sitcoms of the last 30 years (Friends doesn't count, it's pop culture gone berserk), they almost all have something in common: characters who have personalities, be they intelligent, dim, or somewhere in between. They are more than one-dimensional. You can relate to the people, and you get to think while you watch them. This is lost too often by writers who think they have are writing to the audience.

So, I hereby list the following truly classic sitcoms of my generation:

All in the Family - Archie was so bigoted and so unaware of it, that you watched him just to see how stupid he could be. This started it all, and included clever writing, which has been lost over the years.

The Bob Newhart Show - Bob Newhart is one of the best comics of this age. He can do more with a look than most young comics can do with anything. The cast all worked together so well, and knew when to throw in the towel.

MASH - I think this might be the second-best sitcom ever. It took a difficult subject in a difficult time, and gave us characters we love, messages we can apply in many situations, and a comaraderie that overpowered everything. Few shows can work in new characters with the skill these surgeons did. Excellence all around.

Newhart - Another Bob Newhart show. Bob is the only intelligent person in Vermont, and he gets to deal with molehill after molehill that everyone else turns into mountains. You love him, because you feel like you're living his life every day. Best final episode ever.

Cheers - This is the greatest sitcom ever.

Night Court - Zany, crazy characters doing the zany crazy things that other ensembles could never get away with (putting Groucho glasses on the Statue of Liberty?!). Crazy.

Seinfeld - Notices the little things and points out how crazy people get letting them take over their lives. He did it in a not-quite-subtle way that worked, but I doubt could ever be duplicated.

Frazier - Takes a psychiatrist who's looming on the edge of sanity, combines him with his equally precariously balanced brother, their dad, who acts like a dad should, his quirky assistant and Niles's would-be love interest, and Frazier's assistant, a loud-mouthed crazy woman in her own right. Christopher Lloyd produced the first few seasons, which were magical, and, after he left, the show took a turn downward, until thelast season, when he came back again. Terrific, and classy. Second-best final episode ever.

Everyone Loves Raymond - The family from hell. Ray is such a doofus, and everyone in his family has its own personality (except the kids, who were necessary, but mostly as window dressing). Few family comedies can work together this well.

That's it. Nine shows, out of the hundreds that have come out over the years. These are the classics. There have been other good shows, but most have been tripe. Again, you'll notice something special in these shows, something that other shows don't quite have. Would that it happened a little more often.

Divorce, American Style!

As I was taking the children to school and daycare today, I heard on the radio that today (the first business day after New Year's) is the busiest day of the year for divorce lawyers. I can't think of a worse time, myself, to select for a divorce. I understand that you're trying to make a better life for yourself and that you think you're liberating yourself, but I can't help but think that as divorce is one of the most emotionally painful endeavors anyone can go through, that it's not the best way to start a new year. Additionally, think of the effect it has on your spouse (though you might want to ruin his or her year), how much it's going to hurt him or her. And is it really the way you want to celebrate a new year with your children, if you have any? Perhaps it'd be better to wait until the newness has set in and thus they don't have to have such a painful reminder of the new year.

Then again, it is a symbolic resolution-type event. I can understand wanting to make a new start at the beginning of a new year, so perhaps there is good to it, after all.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Day 9

On the Ninth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying

Five golden rings

Four calling birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree.

Gripe Gripe Gripe

This year for Christmas, we received, among other things, gift cards to a toy store and to a conglomerate of restaurants. I'm grateful for the cards; the children get to pick gifts by themselves, and the wife and I can go to eat. However, I don't understand why the cards, which have the value you pay for them, would charge you to have them. This makes little real sense to me. If I give my wife $25 in cash, she can spend it anywhere she wants whenever she wants. When you buy a gift card, you have to use it in a specific amount of time (my cards say if not used in 12 months or 24 months) or they will start charging you "administrative fees" - basically charging you for money for buying a card you can only use at their stores. While it's highly unlikely I'd go that long without using the card, in theory you could find a point where you've waited so long to use the 25 bucks (or however much) that you've lost the entire amount. Is it really so difficult for the stores to make profits that they have to charge you for spending your money on them?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Day 8

On the eighth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying

Five golden rings

Four calling birds
Three french hens
Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree

New Year's Day

I'm apparently not young anymore. I made it to midnight, but I'm pretty sure I was asleep at 12:03. After looking after the kids, who acted as though they were on amphetamines all day, we were simply exhausted by the time the ball dropped. And, as you can tell, they're up bright eyed and bushy tailed on New Year's Day! They wanted to ensure we were up early enough to wish everyone a happy 2006 as soon as we possibly could!

Hope the new year finds everyone happy and well!