Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tuesday Essay Question

The Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday that whistleblowers don't have expanded First Amendment rights. The question for you is was this the right decision?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


During dinner tonight, my son dropped the butter knife. He picked it up to take to the kitchen and noticed that there was some hair on it. He commented on it, of course, and then reprimanded mom, "Stop mulching!"

What's next?

All right, so the concept of a government by the people, of the people, for the people means that if the people dislike a set of laws, or the way the government is going, they can rise up and challenge it, right? We've had third parties in America before, the Progressive Party, the Communist Party, the Bull Moose Party, the Libertarian Party, and I understand there's even a Prohibition Party still lurking about. The last one wants to re-abolish liquor in the U. S. apparently.

So from that perspective, it's hard to criticize this, the Charity, Freedom and Diversity Party, a party in the Netherlands whose goal is to lower the age of consent from 16 to 12, and then abolish it altogether. In other words, this is essentially a Pedophile Party. The party line is that by making sex taboo to children, it just makes them curious. However, I view it more as "We get in trouble if we do what we want to do because it's against the law, so we want to try to change the law."

Again, from one angle, that makes sense. That's pretty much the essence of what lobbyists do. However, the crux of the argument, that it should be okay to engage in sexual intercourse with children under sixteen, is one that I can't accept. It makes me ill to even think of it. I hope they fail.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Ground Control to Major Tom

The Boy is learning to ride a two wheeler. He would have learned a couple years ago like most boys, but we didn't live in a bike-conducive complex at the time (read - drugs, broken bottles, litter, and liquor).

It reminds me of a time when I was fourteen. My Sunday School teacher gave me his old bike. It was old. It was a Sears brand Ten-speed street bicycle. I had never before, nor have I ever since, seen a Sears brand bicycle. And it was Yellow. Canary mixed with New York Cab yellow. We called her Granny Too Tall.

One day, my friends and I went bike riding down to Ft. Steilacoom Park, down the field behind Waughop Lake. This field is basically a giant hill with a beaten trail down the middle. Normally this trail of dirt interspersed with medium-sized stones is no problem, as it's basically smooth, though downhill, and my friends and I traversed this hill several times on our bikes. But one day we went to the park a little too soon after the rain. What happened was a perfect combination of teenage ignorance, old bike, wet ground and descending angle.

My friends went first; I followed on Granny Too Tall. As we started down, I noticed I was picking up speed pretty good - nothing out of the ordinary. But as I applied the hand brakes - they were too wet to grip the tires - No Brakes! So I did the next logical thing, which is put my feet down on the ground to slow myself down. This would be a good time to mention that when I was fourteen, I owned Bobos - cheap shoes with no traction. My feet slid off the wet stones like socks on a freshly waxed floor. So here I am, no brakes, no shoes to slow me down, careening down this quarter-mile hill. I do what comes naturally - I yell "no brakes!" to my friends, who immediately stop and pull off to the side of the trail so I can pass by unfettered.

Now I'm sure a lot of you are asking "why didn't you steer off the trail and let nature slow you down, and then fall safely into the grass next to the trail? I answer - because I was fourteen, and when you're fourteen, you don't think of common sense answers to crises.

Instead, I stayed on Granny Too Tall as we sped heartily down the hill, picking up momentum with every passing yard, careening down the hill to the bottom.

At the bottom of the hill, instead of going straight into the trail around the lake, there is another, little hill you must go over. This hill isn't much more than about 3-4 feet high, and normally isn't a big deal. But when you've got a quarter mile running start and a Sears-quality bike beneath you, you might have problems. I remembered the little hill right about ten feet before I got to it. This left me no time, really, to prepare for The Launch.

I don't know as I can accurately describe The Launch, as I experienced it and didn't see it. I hit the little hill at about Mach 2 (I gotta hand it to Sears, they make a powerful bike). I then launched into the air, about eight to ten feet up, my body soaring over my bike. It was truly majestic feeling, like an eagle trying to alight with a slightly-too-heavy rabbit in tow. When I finally got the chance to appreciate the splendor of flight, gravity reminded me that it is boss. Granny Too Tall and I went down at about twice the force of gravity, I'm sure - there were two of us, so it makes sense. I did a phenomenal job of keeping the tires straight for re-entry, and even managed to get my left foot back on its pedal. Unfortunately, a bike has two pedals, and missing the second pedal caused my to adjust my balance to keep from injuring certain body parts and ensuring that I injured several more body parts. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I ended up in the dirt between a couple trees in the area between the trail and the lake. Other than a few scrapes and bruises, I was actually quite good for the wear, and likely very lucky, to boot.

I don't think Granny Too Tall ever really recovered from the trauma, though. She never could keep a tire on the front from going flat within a day. I searched and searched for a problem, but couldn't find it, so I firmly believe that Granny Too Tall was popping the tires when I wasn't looking, lest I attempt to launch her into a low level Sears orbit again.

I miss Granny Too Tall. It wasn't the prettiest of bikes, but it did the job, and was well liked by the posse.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bush: The New Truman?

I don't think so. President Truman had a sign that said "The Buck Stops Here" on his desk, and contemporary reports and his actions dictated that indeed was the case.

President Bush has cast blame on Michael Brown, CIA officers, the media, liberals, and pretty much anyone else he can point to for as long as possible.

President Truman didn't care what people thought of him. He certainly didn't seem to care what future generations thought of him: "Some presidents were great and some weren't. I can say that because I wasn't one of the great ones, but I had a heck of a time trying."

President Bush compared himself to one of the Great Presidents (One Harry S Truman) at a recent academy graduation.

President Truman said "We're going to lick 'em as soon as you stand there."

President Bush said "Mission Accomplished" several years ago, yet we're still there.

President Truman was no friend of big business.

President Bush gave large tax cuts to Oil companies during their period of record profits.

President Truman told you what he meant and he meant it.

President Bush says one thing and then when it turns out to be untrue, explains what he meant by what he said.

There are similarities, to be sure. President Truman was wildly unpopular at the end of his presidency, and president Bush is rather unpopular right now. President Truman got us involved in a war with no real end in sight, as did president Bush. But I don't recall reading or hearing anywhere where president Truman did anything merely because he thought it might earn him points.

For another perspective on this comparison, I point you toward The Moderate Voice's take.

Stupid MSM

I can't imagine where they get off thinking that they should print articles where U. S. Marines kill Iraqi civilians. This article suggests that the Marines killed some two dozen Iraqi civilians in a raid last November, and that Rep. Murtha, a known war critic, thinks this could "undermine" the war effort. Come on, people, that was last NOVEMBER! It's been six months. This isn't NEWS, it's OLDS!

This is just another glaring example of the Republican-hating MSM who take any chance at all to point out a possible black mark on the President's war to liberate these people we kill. You'll notice that the MSM NEVER mentions the days like every day last week where Marines DIDN'T kill two dozen Iraqi civilians. It's no wonder people are starting to dislike this war.

What would you do if you got to the top of Mount Everest?

Would you stand naked at the top of the world?

This man did.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Steve: Mr. Do it Yourself

In the long family tradition of "if it works, I did it right," I answered the call of duty today on a couple home projects. First, I had to fix one of the doors on the entertainment stand. It had cracked a couple months ago and the daughter broke it off completely during a hissy fit a couple weeks ago. So I put the part of the door that broke off to the side and promptly forgot to do anything about it. This is standard guy procedure, as most guys won't attest to, as it's a secret (I risk losing my "order of manly men" card that I got at a florist once - really - over this). So today, my first weekend of summer vacation, since I was writing my paper last weekend, it doesn't count, I finally got to Home Depot (I'm not allowed to go to Lowe's my wife can tell you why as I'm not sure) and found some connectors. These things, which I think are actually called "connectors," are flat pieces of metal with holes in them. I bought one four-pack of the three inch connectors and then went to find screws. I never knew the difference between the different types of screws, but after spending 45 minutes staring at all of them at the store, I really don't know the difference.

So then I go home, connectors and screws in hand. I promptly get to work on fixing the door. At the end of an hour which involved far less swearing than one might imagine such a simple project to entail, I looked upon a fixed door. By fixed, of course, I mean "both pieces are attached to each other in vaguely the same manner they were before it broke." This is good news, because it means there's one more barrier the little boy has to get through before he can strew movies and movie cases all over the living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, conservatory (and we don't even HAVE one of those, so I'm really not sure how he managed that), etc.

Then it's time for a Coca-Cola. There's nothing in the world better than a cold Coca-Cola. Now I know some of you will say "Love" or "Family" are right up there, and they are. But really, Coca-Cola doesn't wake you up naked on the landing at five in the morning and Coca-cola doesn't ask you to go to Jared (I HATE Jared jewelers commercials). So the tie goes to Coca-cola, as one might expect.

After a nice Coca-Cola, and a nap that lasted about 52 seconds, it's time to get to work on Demon Dryer. Demon Dryer, as I've mentioned before, doesn't understand the core definition of its purpose. The battle of Steve v. Demon Dryer is to last three rounds.

Round 1. I pull Demon Dryer out of his corner and lodge myself behind it. I unhook the dryer hose due to the presumption that there is a blockage that is preventing the stuff from drying. I pull out some lint, but not in sufficient quantities to effect an official blockage. Then I stand up to let my wife know what's going on, since she was looking in on me. This results in my slamming my head on the bottom of the cupboard that overhangs the dryer. Round 1 goes to Demon Dryer.

Round 2. I start reattaching the dryer hose, which is made of aluminum. The wonderful thing about aluminum is that it's plyable. This thing that really sucks about aluminum is that it's plyable and it likes to fold in on itself. Since our dryer hose has had approximately seven miles trimmed off of it to make it fit better, we now have about eight inches of dryer hose left. This means that whatever I can attach on one end won't allow me to stretch enough to get to the other end. Demon Dryer knew this and didn't tell me; laughing to itself the whole time. Round 2 goes to Demon Dryer.

Round 3. I somehow manage to get the hose mostly attached at both ends with a modicum of swearing and only three lost teeth (don't ask). I then stand up and somehow manage to convince the laws of physics to bend the rules a little for me so that I can successfully get out from behind Demon Dryer. Finally, I push Demon Dryer back to its original position, which is where it wanted to be the whole time. So basically, we spent an hour to get back to where we started. Demon Dryer 3, Steve 0. We have a unanimous decision. BUT Demon Dryer works, and dries clothes slightly less slowly than before, so perhaps we might have eked out a draw on a technicality...

Working on Demon Dryer is like saddling a cow. You work like hell, but what's the point?

Now I need to go to the store and pick up a printer. I hope it's not an evil printer.

I've been tagged

Four jobs I have had in my life:

  1. Fast Food Manager
  2. Laptop assembly line worker
  3. Crypto-linguist
  4. Law clerk

Four movies I could watch over and over:

  1. Hoosiers
  2. Without a Clue
  3. Band of Brothers (I know it’s a miniseries, but I think it counts)
  4. Emperor’s New Groove

Four places I have lived:

  1. Monterey, California
  2. South Korea
  3. Severn, Maryland
  4. Oscoda, Michigan

Four places I have been on vacation:

  1. What’s a vacation?

Four TV shows I love to watch:

  1. Cheers – the single greatest television show in the history of Philo T. Vance’s invention.
  2. 2 and a half men
  3. My Name is Earl
  4. Gray’s Anatomy

Four things I always carry with me:

  1. Pictures of the kids
  2. My cell phone
  3. loose change
  4. my keys

Four websites I visit daily:

  1. The Detroit Free Press (
  4. your blog

Four people I am tagging:

  1. You
  2. You
  3. You
  4. and You

Friday, May 26, 2006

Good Morning, good morning!

So I wake up this morning to the little boy's cries in his crib. The girl is already in our bed, as she is wont to do. That notwithstanding, I go to see if I can buy the little boy off with a sippy cup of water. No dice. It's time to move, dad!

So I get him and take him to our bed, where he lays down next to me and his sister, with mom on the other side of the girl. This naturally requires the boy to climb over his sister's face so he can play with mom's hair. After a few minutes of grappling, the girl decides it's not worth the fight and retires - not to her room, where she would be in peace and have space to lay out, but to the bottom of the bed. I now wish I had gone to her room.

You see, when I take the kids to our room in the morning, it's because I'm too tired to get up myself, and I hope that by dropping them in bed, they'll get a little more sleep so I can do so as well. I do this every day. You'd think I'd learn by now, but no. I never get to go back to sleep.

This time, after successfully evicting his sister from the prime real estate, the little boy apparently decided it was time to get up. I was semi-conscious and don't completely remember him getting out of bed, but a couple minutes later, I hear a voice calling, "Daddy? daddy? daddy? Get UP, daddy, diaper." (or something to that effect)

So, after trying in vain to get the wife to get up (she took a nap yesterday so is arguably more well rested than I), I get up and go to the stairs, where the little boy is already halfway down. I get to the landing, where the boy is and recognize that he is completely naked. He had taken his diaper off somewhere (I still haven't found it; it's going to turn up in 5000 years when some future civilization will think it held some mythological relevance to me when really it held pee), and is letting me know that he needs a new one. So he drags me downstairs and gets a new diaper. I know this because he holds it out to me and says "Diaper!"

Then, as I take the diaper, he says "Lay down?" and lays down and throws his legs in the air, so that I can hurry up and get the diaper on instead of wasting his precious time. It's five in the morning, after all. We need breakfast!

So we have an orange, and eventually try to get the other kids and the mom awake.

I'm not getting out of bed tomorrow.


I recently played in a chess tournament at a local hotel (tournaments are often at hotels so that out of town participants can stay, usually at a reduced rate). Between rounds after the second day, my friends and I were out in the lobby discussing the games we'd played, going over the post-mortem, and sharing anecdotes from the day's proceedings. After a while, the manager came out to us and told us we had to leave. When we asked why, noting that we weren't being particularly loud AND that it was the entry of the hotel, he answered, "Because, I can't STAND chess nuts boasting in an open foyer!"

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Random Trivia

The albatross can glide on air currents so long that it can fly while it's asleep, due to its expansive wingspan.

No Haiku Wednesday

As my dear friend War Professor noted, I did not post haiku yesterday for the first time in over a year. I have a good excuse.

We were in a car accident. My family and I were on our way home when a truck drove over a concrete median and right into the front driver's side quarter of our car. He then backed up over the median and drove off.

So long story short (and I could give a long story for this), our minivan is gone, at least for the time being but probably for good, and I need to get to the collision center to get the key for my car while the wife gets the rental taken care of.

Anyway, Haiku Wednesday was absent, though it should be back next week.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


At about 4:50 this morning, the daughter climbed into our bed. I woke up, looked over and saw her sitting there, bright, happy smile on her face, "I love you, daddy!"
"I love you too, honey."
"You're MY daddy!" (Note, this means that no matter what I can't get mad at her this morning)
"Thanks, sweetie, it's time to lay down and get some sleep"
"OK" - She then lays down almost long enough for the pillow to move from the weight of her head
"Daddy, I need gotta look outside." gets up (climbing over me) and looks out the window, and starts singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
"Very good honey, now lay down"
"OK." She lays down, hugs my arm for a couple minutes, then, apparently deciding that 3 minutes was sufficient rest, sits up again.
"Honey, you need to get some sleep"
"Daddy, it's time gotta get up, we need gotta eat breakfast"
"It's not six o'clock yet, sweetheart"
"It's gonna be six o'clock, we need get up, I'll get your glasses" (I can't argue with this logic, in part because it makes no sense to an adult and in part because I'm only conscious in the sense a cocker spaniel is conscious of Thursday.)
We go downstairs, and the daughter tells me she needs cereal. After the great debate, we settle on GoLean Crunch. This cereal looks like GrapeNuts on steroids and tastes like GrapeNuts on steroids.
So she starts eating cereal and I get on the computer to check the news, my blog, e-mail, etc. At some point during this computer check, the daughter finished her breakfast and disappeared. She had gone upstairs and fallen asleep again. Typical.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tuesday Essay Question

Inasmuch as the 13th Amendment still allows for slavery and indentured servitude (as punishment for a crime), should the government ever exercise this allowance?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Summer vacation

I finished writing my paper last night. It's 20 3/4 pages long, which isn't bad for me. I haven't edited yet, so there will be some changes, but at least it's written. I can turn it in and be complete, if need be. The editing is going to be important, though, as that can be as much as 2/3 letter grade difference.

In the meantime, I go back to work today. My boss was kind enough to give me last Friday off to work on my paper; I'm quite thankful for that. While I wish I could take a little more time to relax, it's best that I get right back to work. While I won't be making money this summer with my job, I get to do a lot of stuff that folks in the big internships won't get to do, and that should serve me well in the future.

So today, work, tonight, edit, tomorrow, work tomorrow night, mail in paper to the Professor and be done with the semester. Yay.

This is news?

"Clinton Reveals her iPod playlist"

The title pretty much sums up everything you need to know, I guess. Hillary Clinton has an iPod, and on it are songs that she likes. Wow.

The article does note in passing that Hillary is "a possible presidential candidate in 2008," which might explain this otherwise uninteresting news release.

While I'm sure Hillary has many fans, I don't think she's at the Jackie O stage of life, where people hang on her every act. I could be wrong of course, but it just doesn't seem to be the case.

If not for celebrity gossip, then why the news release? This is what drives us back to the presidential candidate comment. Hillary seems to be in an image reform mode, starting from last year. This seems to be an effort to show that she's a "regular Jane," who is not unlike most of America. I would probably put this release among the other steps Hillary has taken to show that she is trying to move to the middle. The question is, will anyone believe it, or will people remember the Hillary of the 1990s?

I will not vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, merely because I believe she is as far left as President Bush is far right, despite her apparent efforts to show otherwise, and I believe a President needs to be much more moderate.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Pistons Win!

Talk about a stressful series. Detroit was supposed to win in four, five games at most. Instead, Cleveland launched a great comeback in game two that started just a little too late for them to catch up. They carried that through to a game three blowout, which was followed up by two two point losses for Detroit before the Pistons won a two point game for game six. This game was rather close at halftime, 40-38 Detroit, before Detroit pulled away in the second half to win comfortably and take the series. Great focus by Detroit when it counted, but still more lapses in concentration made this much more difficult than it should have been.

One has to hand it to Cleveland, though. LeBron James played phenomenally, and his teammates played well also. They frustrated Detroit and played much better than people presumed they could. In the end their inexperience and the fact that they relied primarily on a 21 year old is what did them in.

Rest easy though, Cleveland fans. You took the best team in the NBA to seven games in a year where you weren't expected to last five. Provided you can keep your nucleus together and healthy, next season could be the year the Cavs make the finals. The hump for LeBron is going to be the same hump Michael had to get by - the Pistons. Detroit is kind of in a bad spot, because they are peaking right when a superstar is reaching his potential. Detroit could have dominated the early 90s, save for the Bulls and a certain number 23. It took him three tries to get by Detroit, but when he did, that was it. Now, in the mid 2000s, Detroit is again at the top of it all, but there is a new phenomenal number 23 coming of age. I don't want to sound the death knell of Detroit yet - I think the Pistons still have one or two more years of finals in them, but it's going to hinge on the Cavaliers, I think, and the rate of their maturity more so than on anything Detroit can bring.

Congrats Detroit, and congrats Cleveland.

What the hole?!

Japanese scientists, noting the reduction of the release of CFCs and other similar ozone-depleting gases, suggested that the hole in the ozone may start contracting in the near future and could be gone by 2050.

This is pretty must just speculation, and probably is about as trustworthy as reports on global warming and global freezing over the years, but it's interesting to hear.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

While trying to avoid finishing my paper

I am cooking dinner. Hungarian Goulash. Good food, though my kids think they hate it every time they see it. I can understand; it's pretty ugly. But it tastes great, especially with rice.


I'm a cribbage player. After you've played cribbage for a few years, it stops being about talent and starts being more about luck of the draw.

I also play Euchre, which requires cheating. In fact, Euchre comes from an old time word that means to bluff. I thought it was midwest vernacular for "gotta have a few beers in ya before you play," but that apparently is not the case.

And then I play Chess. Chess is one of the most difficult games in the world to play well. You can play, and you can even win a fair amount without knowing much; but to learn how to position everything in the right spot, especially in the face of someone else who knows exactly what they are doing, that is a true challenge, and in perfect keeping with the concept of sport.

And then I play backgammon, where Luck again can rule the roost. Fun though, and the Boy plays, sometimes.

That's funny!

Someone told a joke that meets the Binjo Ditch standard for quality! Good Job, Michelle!

This joke is right up there with the Binjo Ditch classics in terms of funny!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Movie Night

We've decided over the past month or so to implement family movie night on Fridays. I think it's going all right; not necessarily well. The kids enjoy picking the movie, but it's still a challenge getting all the family to sit down together.

Tonight's family movie was Brother Bear. It's all right for Disney Fare. I think it's one of the best Disney flicks of this century (not including the Pixar stuff, which is by far superior). The Boy liked it and actually sat through it all. He can usually be counted on this when he picks the movie, which for the first time since March was not Narnia.

The other two, however, felt that movie night was code for "go upstairs to mommy and daddy's room and play 'tackle' on their bed while mommy tries to rest after a hard day volunteering at our brother's school's Field Day." You can see how the confusion arose, obviously.

I, in the meantime, worked some more on my paper. I'm about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way finished, save editing. I should be able to complete it this weekend and get it mailed off on Monday. Nothing like waiting to the last possible minute to get the work done. Perhaps I am a lawyer, after all.

Now, we're watching "Without a Clue," a charming Sherlock Holmes movie from the late '80s. It stars Michael Caine as Holmes and Ben Kingsley as Watson. It's one of the cleverer movies written in the last 20 years; much more so than most of what Hollywood has put out in the last five + years. If you get the chance, I recommend it. but pay attention, the wit is wry at times.

Separation of Powers?

Justice Scalia yesterday again voiced his opposition to citing foreign law in court opinions, but then he admonished recent efforts by congress to pass a law forbidding it. From this article on "I don't think it's any of your business," Scalia said before a lunch meeting of the National Italian American Foundation that included many members of Congress of Italian descent. "I'll be darned if I think it's up to Congress to tell us how to rule."

The article then notes that congressman Feeney from Florida introduced a resolution expressing opposition to the practice and suggesting that judges who violate it should be impeached. And last year congressman Shelby introduced a law that would outright forbid federal judges from relying on "any constitution, law, administrative rule, Executive order, directive, policy, judicial decision, or any other action of any foreign state or international organization or agency, other than English constitutional and common law up to the time of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States."

You see, stare decisis means to congressman Shelby that a 400 year dead English King knows better how this country's laws should apply than any non-American democracy or republic.

Both congressmen suggested that by citing foreign law (note the term cite is different than the term rely) violates the supremacy clause of the Constitution. I'm not sure I agree with their conclusion. As I've mentioned before, Texas court cases cite Oklahoma, Iowa, Delaware, even (gasp!) California law and cases in their cases where there is little or nothing in Texas law to find a decision, and, so long as the laws are similar, it's rational to use their conclusions to help reach Texas conclusions. I see no appreciable difference between the two situations.

I also find it ironic that Congress would try to rectify the perceived violation of the Supremacy Clause on the part of "activist judges" by passing a law pursuant to the Constitution, which is subject to the supremacy clause. It seems the approach to the perceived problem is like trying to get a kid who won't brush his teeth to brush his teeth by buying a new toothbrush. It doesn't fix the perceived problem.

Congressman Feeney noted that the president can veto a law (check the rules, President Bush, you really can!) and the Court can overrule a law, but the only way Congress can express their displeasure is through a resolution. I don't know if maybe Congressman Feeney didn't take any kind of Constitutional Law class, but from what I remember, the Supreme Court is pretty much bound to the laws passed by Congress, unless those laws are not passed pursuant to the Constitution. To not mention this allows the implication that the courts are running rampant, just striking down laws as they see fit. I won't be so naive as to believe that doesn't happen, but there is a large structure in the court system and I would think that for the overwhelming majority of the time the right conclusion comes out, whether Congress likes it or not.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Random Trivia

England and Portugal have the longest intact peace treaty between two nations. Additionally, they have never been at war with each other.

And to think I considered myself a moderate. Bad Steve!

You are a

Social Liberal
(75% permissive)

and an...

Economic Moderate
(55% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Day off

Today is my day off. I finished my last final last night, somewhat anticlimactic considering the stress I was feeling about the final. I know I didn't ace it, but it seemed easy enough. We'll have to see what happens.

Tomorrow I go back to work. It's tough to work for a job that doesn't pay enough to afford to work. But I need the experience, and it's not a bad office.

My plans for today are pretty busy - I'm going to take a nap, watch an episode of Monk or two, write on my paper which is due a week from next Monday (I want to get that done by Sunday), and get my hair cut. It's long overdue for a trim - I look rather bushy. Finals takes a lot of my concentration, alternating between stressing and trying to relax.

In other news, Red Hot Mamma is going to Malta today. She's taking summer school. I would have taken summer school, but the school has rules restricting eligibility, and I wasn't eligible. I don't get it. They have an allotted number of slots. Those slots aren't filled. There are people willing to go. It would make sense to me to allow those students interested and able to go, go. I can understand giving priority, but otherwise you're denying an opportunity to yourself and the student.

Oh well. What do I know?

In other news, it might not be possible for us to go to Michigan this summer after all. It would cost nearly 2500 for the family to fly up there, and with three kids between 2 and 7, driving isn't necessarily a powerful option.

I'm sure there's a way to make it happen. I REALLY want to get the family up to the cabin, for the kids' sake and my own. But we're limited in means and time, so it's going to be tough. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Final Final

Wills is tonight.

I really like the concept of wills, and think this is the area of law that might best suit me, asking incongruous questions about things that people don't really think should matter about their property but it does because the state decides it does and then charging them an exorbitant fee to get them to sign a piece of paper (I kid). But I'm really nervous about this final. I took over 115 pages of notes for this class, and I'm still not quite clear on what we learned. That's a scary thing to be thinking when you go into a final. While I am quite fond of my professor on a personal level, I'm afraid that her effectiveness at instructing has fallen by the wayside over the years.

In other news, I need to plan my summer. This is the last summer I have in law school, as next year I get to spend studying for the bar. Probably the Texas Bar, but it could be somewhere else (WA, MI, IN, OH, who knows). That's going to be a fun ride. Anyway, I've got my job, which I go back to on Friday. I'm not fond of the job; the practice encompasses fields with which I'm not comfortable dealing or where I'm not interested in practicing. The lawyer is nice, and she's really helpful teaching me the things I need to operate in a law office, but the environment isn't right for me. So I've got six weeks left on my probationary period. At some point, probably next week or the week after, I'm going to let her know that I'm not going to stay with the practice. I want to give her the chance to get someone else hired and spun up before I take off. Then July comes, and we're thinking of taking a trip to Michigan and Indiana. We'll see how that goes. I'm not going to comment much on that right now, especially because I need to get back to wills.

BTW, don't ask for your estate to pay off your "just debts" in your will, because that includes everything that you owe, including debts forgiven by bankruptcy and claims that are barred by the statute of limitations.

Wednesday is Haiku Day

One more final left
Then must finish paper... to
Sleep... perchance to dream.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The little boy

My youngest son likes to wait until he can't wait no more to poop. He doesn't believe in the little at a time concept, apparently, as he will hold it for a couple, three days and then poop like there's no tomorrow. I think that method of going is rather interesting, cramming as much in your system as you can until you just dump it all out at once.

In other news, I just finished my agency and partnership final. (per my wife): itwaslostonme.

Tuesday Essay Question

Back when I was in the Air Force, we had to do random opinion surveys. One time in particular sticks out for me. It was an anonymous survey. On the survey, for data collection, however, they asked for background information, to get a sense of demographics (the survey said). So I had to answer some questions before I could render my opinion. Let's see how anonymous this survey became:

Month and year of birth
base name
squadron name
office name
AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code, the particular job you hold in the air force)
Married or Single
Male or Female
Date arrived at duty station (month and year)

Then they proceeded to ask questions on how we felt about various subjects. I can't remember in detail; it's been four years. But the background information really stuck out for me. How hard would it be to check military records to find out who I am? Is this information really necessary to get a frank appraisal on current feelings of active duty members? It doesn't really seem too be terribly anonymous, short of not asking for your name or social security number.

Now, my question - Should the tracking system that is being used by the NSA be allowed? If no, could it be changed so that it would be allowable by you? What are your reasons for concluding yes or no?

Note that I am not asking whether it is legal or not. This is a should question, not a question of legal conclusion.

Take your time and come up with your answer. I look forward to hearing your responses.

On Limited Liability

To determine if there is in fact limited liability in a company or partnership, there are several steps you must take.

First, there's the concept of limited liability. Only God can make a tree, but only the state can make a limited liability entity. Once the necessary paperwork has been forwarded to the Secretary of State (SOS), then the SOS will ensure that all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed, and then (s)he will file the articles and create the entity (usually, the entity begins existence upon filing). After such time, any limited liability limits would naturally apply, so long as the proper requirements are met (such as indicating that liability is limited on any contractual paperwork, etc.).

But what about the time before the limited liability exists? Wherein would liability lie? That depends on many factors. The proper analysis would start with whether or not the entity was properly formed. If not, then you ask whether or not there is a General Partnership. A general partnership, generally defined, is an agreement of two or more people to carry on as co-owners a business for profit. Typically, individuals who would get together to form a limited liability entity would match your state's prerequisites for a general partnership. Then you look to the agreements that were made prior to the formation of the limited liability entity. With whom was the third party contracting? If the documents indicate that the party was contracting with a limited liability entity (e.g. the contract is signed by ABC, LLC) then, when the LLC legally comes into existence, it can assume the liability on the contract via adoption (taking affirmative steps to assume the liability on the contract). Until that time comes, the member/partner who contracted with the third party holds personal liability, as he or she, working as a promoter, or agent, of the principal, is making the binding agreement. The other members/partners in the LLC may also be liable as general partners, because in a general partnership, liability extends to all members, though they have a defense in that the third party believed they were contracting with a limited liability entity, which may shield the other members/partners. However, a person who believes he or she is entering into a Limited Partnership may avoid personal liability if, at the time he or she discovers the Limited Partnership is not in existence, he or she takes affirmative steps to remedy the deficiency or acts to remove him- or herself from an interest in the profits of the Limited Partnership.

In a situation where the third party is contracting with an individual promotor and there is no indication that the promoter is working for a Limited Liability entity (i.e. the contract says ABC, Betsey Wetzel, Member), then as an agent/promoter or as a partner, Betsey would assume liability on the contract. The other members in this situation would likely similarly be bound as the third party cannot adequately assume it is dealing with a limited liability entity. In this situation, when the Limited Liability entity does come into existence, after the deficiencies are remedied, then the limited liability entity may adopt the contract - that is to say that the entity can take liability for the contract so long as they act to do so.

Any questions?

Monday, May 15, 2006

I Dig Rock and Roll Music

Although the new pop/hip-hop/metal stuff isn't to my taste, with a few exceptions.

I'm a real fan of 60's and 70's music, and since I grew up in the 80's and 90's, I followed it then as well.

And of course it's an inequivocable, unarguable, undebatable fact that the Beach Boys "Good Vibrations" is the single greatest rock and roll song of all time, bar none.

I always found it interesting when people would remake a song, because often, in my mind, it wasn't as good as the original. But that's my opinion. What do you think about the following?

1. Land of 1000 Dances - Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, or Wilson Picket?
2. American Pie - Don McLean or Madonna?
3. The LocoMotion - Little Eva, or Kylie Minogue?
4. Venus - Shocking Blue or Bananarama
5. Gloria - Them or Shadows of Knight
6. Hooked on a Feeling - Blue Suede or David Hasselhoff
7. Hazy Shade of Winter - Simon and Garfunkel or the Bangles
8. I Saw Her (Him) Standing There - Tiffany
9. Total Eclipse of the Heart - Bonnie Tyler or Nicki French
10. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns and Roses or Sheryl Crow
11. California Girls - Beach Boys or David Lee Roth?
12. Live and Let Die - Wings or Guns and Roses?

"Trust me"

I've had a hard time commenting on the whole warrantless wiretaps/domestic surveillance issue. Part of the reason is because I don't know how much of an issue it really is. I personally don't want the government monitoring my phone conversations or any numbers I've dialed without a warrant based upon probable cause. If I've done nothing wrong, then why do they need to monitor? But the other reason is that I'm unsure it's illegal.

One thing I really don't like is the President's insistance that it is legal because he says so. The president is implying that Congress needs to step away from the matter and let the man do his job. If there's a debate as to the issue, then it needs to go to Congress to make the determination. And I daresay there is a legitimate question as to the legality. While I'm not going to go into a brief on the issue, I will link to a guest blogger at The Moderate Voice, who does do so, and who cites Supreme Court precedent indicating the president can't order wiretaps even to keep a building from being bombed.

There needs to be an investigation.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mental Health

An article from my server snagged my attention. According to the article, "[t]he Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating, and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq."

The article also notes the following:

The Army's top mental health expert, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, acknowledged that some deployment practices such as sending service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrom back into combat, have been driven in part by a troop shortage. "The challenge for us ... is that the Army has a mission to fight. And, as you know, recruiting has been a challenge," she said. "And so we have to weigh the needs of the Army, the needs of the mission, with the soldiers' personal needs."

This is not new practice, weighing the needs of the military before the needs of the soldier. It's common practice, and anyone who's served active duty knows this. That still doesn't explain how the military can send someone back to fight who is suffering from conditions that would render him unfit for entering the service (volunteers who suffer from PTSD are disqualified from eligibility to enlist).

It's a bit of a tough spot for the military. They have standards, and they mentally screen soldiers who have been overseas to check for eligibility. But, given the situation we're in, a war with no end in sight, recruiting shortages and rumors of possibly attacking another country, it doesn't look like it's going to ease up at all any time soon. People are going to cry out and say that this is ludicrous. People are going to blame the president, or the military commanders, or whomever. But, as I've said before, if you want to help out the soldier who's suffering, why haven't you enlisted to take his place? Would you gladly go if there were a draft to overcome the manpower shortages? Don't complain if you are not (or were not) willing to help out. For those of you who say that the soldiers knew what they were getting into, or who continue to support a war that would send mentally unfit people to fight, have you enlisted to join them, to show how much you support them, maybe to give those people risking their lives daily a break, some help?

We've created a mess, and there's no telling who's going to have to clean it up, or when.

Happy Mother's Day

To each and all of you mothers out there. You know who you are!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Any Time's a Good Time to Study

The Daughter is sick. Really. She honked in her bed, on one of her puppies, the one I gave her from when I was young. Poor girl. She's been crying for a couple hours about not feeling well. Unfortunately, she cries about not feeling well quite often, so it's a little harder to take her at face value. Combine that with the fact that she rarely does get sick (we've been blessed with rather healthy children), and it takes an act of vomiting to really convince us.

So now she's in our bed with mom. Mom got up with her while she was crying and generally carrying on, so I'm ok with getting up now. My job is to wash the covers and the dog. This normally would be a three minute job, but it's the weekend, so we're in the midst of our 18 loads of laundry that we must do. This isn't a problem for normal people, of course, but we have demon dryer. Demon dryer likes to get hot - really hot. And demon dryer likes to get clothes hot. But Demon Dryer doesn't understand the core duty of a dryer, even though it's imbedded in its name - to dry. This means that we get to spend an hour and a half trying to get three socks, a onesy, 2 pairs of boy's pants, a dress and two shirts unwet enough to put on the back of a chair so it can air dry. Since we only did round 1 before bedtime, I get to stay up waiting for round 2 to finish, while the honked-upon sheets marinate.

So how do I pass the time? By blogging, of course. Well, blogging and studying. You see, I have two more exams this semester, Wills[, Trusts and Estates] and A&P (Agency and Partnership). Back in boot camp, the rule was, if you were not marching or in class, you were studying. That meant any time the formation halted, you opened up your BMTM2 and started learning about the chain of command or various articles of the UCMJ, or random rank structure, or whatever. That has sort of carried on to real life. Now, instead of opening the book and reading, I open the file on my laptop and watch it from behind my game of spider solitaire (I'm Kidding! Sort of!).

Well, Demon Dryer just bellowed some Coptic Gibberish at me, so it must be time to hang the clothes out to dry. Now to make some sheet stew.

On Will Substitutes

A will substitute is a means of passing on property at one's death without going through probate. There are generally five different types of will substitutes, including Life Insurance, Joint Accounts, Joint Tenancy, Revocable (Inter Vivos) Trusts, and Pensions.

Life Insurance is a bit of a euphemism, as it's really the opposite, money paid off on the event of your death. Life insurance is a bit of a gamble, where you are betting that you're going to die before everyone else paying in. If you die soon after you've established your policy, then you've not paid much into it, and you receive maximum benefit. On the other hand, the longer you live, the more you pay in. This is set up as a Contract. It also doesn't have to be a non-probate (will substitute) item. If you bequeath the payout from the life insurance policy to your estate, then it goes into probate.

Joint Accounts are accounts with your name and the name of someone else on it. Think of this like community property. When you die, your name comes off the account and the other person's name stays on. What's yours becomes theirs. There are also payable on death accounts, where there are not two or more names on the account, but you designate who should take on event of your death. Typically, banks will want you to have the new person's name on their documents through a contract, rather than listening to a will.

Pension Accounts only exist if the company for which you work has a pension plan, though you can set up your own through IRA. One thing to note about pension plans is that the beneficiary doesn't change upon divorce. If you get divorced, you need to manually change your beneficiary from your ex-spouse, unless you still want the cheating conniving corpulent corpuscle to get your hard earned pension.

With an inter vivos trust, you set up an account that you pay money and property into that is payable to (whomever) upon your death, or at some predetermined time. You can even name yourself as a beneficiary, if you so choose. You have to select a trustee, who would accept the job of trustee, and then that trustee would become the legal owner of the property - he's holding it in trust for the beneficiary.

Joint Tenancy is similar to Joint accounts, in that there is more than one record owner of a property. When one of the record owners dies, the property is then split among the other records owners.

President Bush Urges Congress to Confirm Hayden

From Yahoo! - President Bush urged the Senate today to move quickly to approve U.S. Gen. Michael Hayden to head the CIA and defended his administration's actions in a new domestic spying controvery.

Here's how I see this headline:
President Bush told Senate to trust his instincts on the person he feels is most qualified for the job, despite a recent failure in nominating the best qualified person for the Supreme Court (Harriet Miers) and despite the fact that so much of what he has asked Congress and the American people to trust him on have come to be not what he insisted they were.

And he defended his actions in a new domestic spying controversy, where it became evident that the collection wasn't as narrowly tailored as he insisted it was a few months ago and that millions of AMERICAN CITIZENS have had their numbers and/or conversations collected without their knowledge.

Here's my problem with the former. President Bush, despite his declarations to the contrary, is NOT the decider. He is a public servant, and one who is supposed to be checked by Congress. That he would pressure Congress to mindlessly follow his nomination without considering the level of the man's qualifications (remember, Gen. Hayden is the one who got the fourth amendment wrong) on the heels of his track record is ludicrous. It's shameful that Congress has basically acted as a rubber stamp to the president's motives so far; but it's been encouraging to see Republican congresspeople stepping back and questioning the validity of what the president wants, even if it might be motivated in part by survival instinct. And if General Hayden is qualified, then appointing him after the requisite background check would not be harmful, at least no more so than many of the other things that the President has been slow on the draw for.

My problem with the latter? Well first, there's the whole issue of privacy. First we were told they only did this when there were foreigners, or when they had a warrant. Then we were told that, well, yeah, we do monitor citizens as well, without warrants, but only the BAD ones, and the jury (so to speak) on whether this is legal is still out. Now, we've learned that the BAD ones must include tens of mllions of US Citizens, because that's how many numbers they are tracking. And the defenses for these latent invasions of our privacy run two tracks. First, there's the "it's to defend us from terrorism" thread, which may have some merit, but if that's the case, then get a freaking warrant. Guilt should come from evidence. Evidence shouldn't come from a dragnet search of everyone. Next we'll be seeing enemies lists. The second defense is the "well, Clinton did it too." My son plays this argument. "Daughter hit me, so I hit her back." That doesn't make it right. Sure Clinton sponsored Managed Health Care, and the majority of Americans rejected it. Clinton did many bad bad things, criminal things, even. He was impeached. Do you really think defending your actions by pointing to an impeached predecessor is the best way to do it? That sounds like justifying ten murders by pointing out Ted Bundy killed fifteen.

I said once that we need to support the president; and I believe that. But that is based on a certain level of trust and credibility, which I think has long since eroded.

Saturday Afternoon

So I'm taking a brief me moment in the midst of finals. I took professional responsibility this morning, and really, there's no telling how I fared. I might be the first student in years to fail that test, or I might have AmJurred (AmJur = highest grade in class) it, or anywhere in between.

The Missus is at a bridal shower for one of her co-workers, which means I'm watching the kids. Watching is kind of a relative term, as they are in the living room and I can see them. Supervision is basically limited to "Put that fire out" and "take your brother out of that bubble wrap, don't roll him down the stairs first!" I exaggerate.

Actually, the kids are currently watching Lord of the Beans (Veggie Tales). We just got back from the store, where we bought Mom her Mother's Day and birthday gifts. What do you give to the woman who has everything? I don't know, but we found something nice for the woman who has abundant debt.

I had the worst night's sleep last night. Cats barfing, youngest son continually waking up and crying, daughter not staying in bed, wife sawing logs like she wants to challenge Weyerhauser in productivity... not to mention exam stress. I could go for a nap right about now, but I need to get to studying and childwatching.


I just got back from my professional responsibility exam. The basic concept for finding the right answer in pro res is:
1. What costs the lawyer the most money?
2. What would Jesus do?
3. Is there an option where the lawyer has to turn himself in?

The right answer is usually one of those three.

Friday, May 12, 2006

On Lawyer's Professional Responsibility

There are three periods of the life of a lawyer's representation of a client: Pre-representation, Representation, and Post-representation.

In Pre-Representation, a lawyer owes duties to his prospective clients:
1. Must get a client's agreement that anything said in the Prosepctive Client period will NOT be bound by the rules of confidentiality. This doesn't apply to MANDATED RIGHTS, such as those in the Ends decisions from the Ends/Means test in Model Rule 1.2

2. When you decide to acept a client, a lawyer must send an engagement letter, which states the scope of the lawyer's representation, fees, etc.

3. Model Rule 1.18, comment 7 - When a lawyer receives disqualifying info from a prospective client, that information is IMPUTED to all members of his firm (i.e. all lawyers in the firm know it and are subject to conflicts of interest), ubless the lawyer obtains informed consent as defined in Model Rule 1.0, in writing, from both the affected client (a current client) and any current clients with whom a conflict of interest exists.

4. A lawyer must be careful during the Pre-Representation Stage. A lawyer can unintentionally take on a client if it's reasonable for the client to believe that said lawyer is their lawyer. From Togstad, a lawyer who doesn't tell prospective clients of statute of limitations; the court held himi liable.

During the Representation Stage:
1. You now owe the client all of the applicable duties in the rules

2. Money does not have to exchange hands for there to be a valid Attorney-Client relationship (think contingency fees or legal aid)

3. A lawyer should always define the scope and duration of his duty to a client.

In the Post-Representation Stage:
1. From Model Rule 1.9:
a. Look for lingering conflicts between former clients and prospective or present clients

b. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Merely completing the work you agreed to perform for your client does NOT terminate your duty to the client. The client remains a present client until the lawyer takes affirmative steps towards terminating the relationship (e.g. This is your last bill, with a follow up letter stating their business together has concluded, etc.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Interesting places

I've been to a few interesting places in my life:

Boston Common
Benjamin Franklin's Philadelphia home
Fort McHenry
Edgar Allen Poe's Baltimore home
Stonewall Jackson's tomb, well for everything but his arm.
Washington DC, all inclusive, substituting the dept. of health and human services for the Smithsonian (not really interesting story as to how)
Fort Deaborn (I think that's the name of the fort near Detroit)
Henry Ford Museum, which included Abe Lincoln's Ford Theatre chair and Thomas Edison's last breath
Mackinac Island
Greenfield Village
Tiger Stadium - the best ballpark ever.
The Gateway Arch
The badlands
The Space Needle
Mt. Rainier
Universal Studios
San Diego Zoo
Monterey Aquarium
National Aquarium
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
Manassas (Bull Run)
San Jacinto Battleground
USS Texas
USS Missouri
USS Pampanito
Golden Gate Bridge/park
San Francisco trolleys - tourist thing, had to be done
Winchester Mansion
Big Sur
Cannery Row
Salinas, CA
USS Constitution
The Alamo
Fort Concho
Namdaemun and Tongdaemun in Seoul
Both Continental Divides
Mason Dixon line
Sault Ste. Marie
4 of the Great Lakes - Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and St. Claire
Empire State Building
Verrazano Bridge
Atlantic City Boardwalk
Liberty Bell
Atlantic Ocean
Pacific Ocean
Gulf of Mexico
Mississippi River (on a riverboat!)
Stanley Park
Cheers (the real one, in Boston).

I daresay I've played a bit of tourist in my day.

Random Trivia

The French once attempted to establish a calendar (the French Republican Calendar) using a decimal-type system for ease of use. There were to be ten days in a week, three weeks a month, twelve months a year, with five (or six, if it's a leap year) days of celebration at the end of each year.

Additionally, the French attempted to introduce a time (French Revolutionary Time) system based on the decimal system (base 10) instead of the Sumerian/Babylonian base 60 system.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On self interested deals

Self-interested dealing is allowed in corporations. A self-interested deal is where a director or officer of one corporation looks to make a deal between that corporation and another corporation where he is a director or officer. The concept suggests that the director is self-dealing, meaning that he is profiting from a business decision from one of his corporations to another. The public policy is that self-interested dealing does not violate the fiduciary duty of loyalty where there has been full disclosure to the board authorizing the transaction, the interest is discolsed to the shareholders who can vote, and the shareholders authorize the transaction by vote or written consent. Finally, the transaction must be fair and reasonable to the corporation. This final rule sets up the duty of loyalty. Your job is to enhance shareholder value, to put the coroprate interests before your own. As such, you need to show that the actions taken were done so in good faith, with honesty and fairness.

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Anxiety attacks
Too many to count of late
When will finals end?

I look forward to your submissions!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Something I can't stand

Is how people on the extremes politically view life. The franges seem to view everything as one or the other, us or them, black or white, good or bad. The left fringe criticizes anyone who isn't as far left as they are as being "the right" and (naturally) uninformed and unable to understand the truth. The same occurs on the right. It appears as though neither side is capable of considering that there is a middle, a middle that is probably much larger than the fringes, and by lumping those of us who aren't solidly on either side in with the "other" side, you alienate us.

The President's approval ratings are at 31%. Unless you believe that nearly 70% of this country is "the left," then it's errant to refer to this as the left disapproving. Think about it. Over half the country voted for him, indicating that "the left" who would arguably vote against a Republican President on general principal, couldn't possibly be 70%.

Why do I mention this? Because it shows that the President is losing support from places other than the left. His policies have alienated "the left." They've alienated much of the middle, as well. Those of us in the middle don't like the bullying demeanor ("I'm the decider"), the inability to change his mind, that he seems to want a reason to fight with those who aren't "on his team," - seriously, why nominate General Hayden? Why nominate Harriet Myers? Were they REALLY the most qualified you could find, and it just so happens that they were ones that would cause such a ruffle? Remember, General Hayden, the man selected to head the CIA, the former director of the NSA, is the one who got the Fourth Amendment wrong. Wrong. And he's the most qualified person you could find to head the CIA? Other issues such as arguing rights as president during war to authorize items (FISA) while creating a possible situation for perpetual war (when is the war on terror going to be over?). Invading nations for reasons that turn out to be false, then justifying it because we're spreading democracy (We'll kill as many of your people as necessary for you to embrace our way of life and be free), which is really close to what the Soviets were trying to do, isn't it? Secret prisons, warrantless wiretaps, missing WMDs, "err on the side of life," sticking at your ranch during a hurricane and then not acting when information suggesting lives could be lost, declaring mission accomplished and not having the troops out three years later, increasing the cap on national debt rather than curbing spending, never vetoing anything in over five years in office, no child left behind, releasing declassified information, lying about it, and then vowing to go after the declassifiers - the list goes on. But what's probably most offputting to me is that he refuses to listen to anyone or anything that offers something contrary to what he wants to hear or do. He's supposed to be a public servant; he's supposed to work in our best interest, yet he "listens" and then does whatever the hell he wants, because he's the decider.

and that might just be why the majority of the country doesn't approve. It's more than just a left/right thing, and it's more than the MSM having it out against republicans - remember the amazing deference given to the president in 2001-2003, the insane benefit of the doubt given him and then it turned out to be wrong, and it took too long to admit it. It's a cumulative effect of his errors in judgment.

Tuesday Essay Question

While not a universal truth from the dawn of our nation (I believe Mass. had the first public school program and that didn't come about until the 1800s), the concept of a right to education seems indelibly marked on our national identity. Even though the Court has ruled that education is not a fundamental right, it's viewed as a right in its own accord. The essay question for you today is as follows:

To what extent is there a right to education? As free public education is granted by the State, and regulated by the Federal government, how should those entities control what students learn in public schools, or what students should learn in general? Should education be restricted to what a government might term "essential," say the three Rs? Or should education be more encompassing, a more rounded composition? Should education even be a right? Should it be viewed as a privilege, something that should be taken away by those who don't respect it? How much should education be regulated, if at all?

This is a multi-layered question that could pose many interesting answers. Be thoughtful, creative, and consider what people write. I look forward to your responses.

Monday, May 08, 2006

If you can't say something nice...

I have several blogs on my blogroll. More than some, fewer than others. But I keep them there for one reason, I like the authors, and I read all almost daily. For a quick rundown of what you may want to see, I offer the following:

Becker Posner blog - Judge Richard Posner and Professor Gary Becker of the University of Chicago. This blog takes an issue and each author posts his opinion on the matter, open to discussion by all readers. After a period, they do a follow up post addressing the comments from the previous post. Excellent examples of reasoned, supported thought and definitely worth consideration, even if you don't share their ideas.

Bookworm Room - Bookworm is my favorite Crypto Conservative. Ironically, being crypto seems to draw out her desire to speak her mind vociferously. She supports her opinions and defends her positions quite well. While I don't always agree with her positions on a subject, I admire that she is willing to consider opposing opinions and I often find that her reasoned replies can soften my opinion (if not change it altogether). I'm very proud to call her a blog friend.

Galactic Patrol - Bruce is a Microsoft guy on one hand and a husband and father on the other. He has some of the best ideas on topics that I'd never think to think about. For example, he recently posted on opposition/support for the tax program and criteria for enhanced support. Those articles are good enough on their own, but then you add random eclectic items like how to cheat at dice and you've got a winner. My only complaint? After reading his blog for almost a year and a half, he still hasn't put me on his blogroll.

I'll Explain This When You Are Older - JMJanssen is a college student at the University of Minnesota in Morris. At least, he is until he graduates on the 13th. His is a blog where you can read up on some very well thought out topics, as you'd expect from a college student who hasn't had several years to become lackadaisal and opinionated. His mind speaks well for his future.

Jack's Mama - This is my sister. While some might think that she lived a privileged life, after all, she did grow up with me as a big brother/role model, she managed to keep a level head on her shoulders. She does an excellent job of inviting you into her life through her writing, getting a feel of what it's like to be the mom of a precocious little boy who loves life for itself. Read her.

Legal Jargon - Bellejar is, according to her blog, the greatest legal mind in her living room. She takes interesting tidbits of life and shares them with the rest of us. She also has the ability to intermingle legal issues, such as blockbuster or classism with grants, or what have you. She's a welcome addition to the sidebar.

Matthew's Place (actually, Matthew's Foray into Blogging) - Matthew is a graduate of my law school and a practicing lawyer a little ways north of where I live. I met him on the blog through a couple other bloggers and found that his perspective as a "baby lawyer" learning the trade and practicing here in the Greater Houston area intriguing. I enjoy his reading, and he has a big brother way of posting on my blog that reminds me to get back to work (btw, thank you for all past and future innocuous reminders, be they intentional or unintentional).

Nuje - Nuje is a drummer with the Drop Trio and the Nuje Improv Trio, inter alia. He's also the husband of my wife's Matron of honor, and one very good friend. If you want info on music, his is the blog to check out. If you want good music, check out drop trio. If you want REALLY GREAT MUSIC, then ask me, I have his old Anachronauts cassette.

One Step Sideways - This is my wife's blog. I put it on the sidebar because, well, it's my wife and I want to be able to sleep in my bed. I joke. My wife is one of the busiest people I know. She works a full time job, sells Mary Kay on the side, makes bead necklaces and earrings for a hobby, grows plants, does laundry, raises children, picks up socks, and puts up with me, though I temper it with my excellent sense of humour.

Particleman - He does things only a particle can. This is one cool dude. If there was anyone I would want to teach me how to play guitar and about patent law, it would be this guy. His blog gives one a view of law school life from a single guy perspective as well as travels, hanging out with friends, etc. I pretty much live vicariously through reading his blog.

Raise Your Hand If... - This is Gramma's blog. She's still feeling her way out in her blog, trying to deal with an uncooperative computer that doesn't always let her post. She has some great comments on this blog, though.

Red Hot Mamma - This is one of my favorite people in law school. RHM is good people. Her blog can run the gamut, from domestic life to social events to law school issues to politics and even to drinking, hers is the place to go. RHM is one of the reasons I am still in law school, her help during finals has been invaluable. She's also one of the social outlets through which I live vicariously. I even managed to get her to eat at a Korean restaurant where she had to share her water with my son (who ate a piece of raw garlic despite the warnings against it) and I convinced her to eat schmaltz, which I recommend to anyone who is willing to try it.

South Texas Law Professor - Professor Stevenson was my CrimLaw professor my first semester. While I think he looks a lot like Tony Shalhoub in Monk, I think he's at least as smart as the Monk character. This guy is sharp and he's got a good sense about him. He's just getting back to blogging after a bit of a hiatus, but he's doing well on his new issues of law and language.

Swandive - What can you say about Heatherfeather other than - Heatherfeather, you rock! You are a wonderful person who does fun things and enjoys being you. I love reading this blog, because the way she writes makes you feel like you're part of her inner circle.

The Cerebral Outpost - Carol is an excellent writer of life's happenings. What she lacks in quantity she more than compensates for in quality. Every time I read one of her posts, I'm reminded of a similar instance in my life. She's great fun.

The Lady Justitia - Michelle is an Australian law student (right?). Her blog is full of life down under and covered with lovely photos. She's got a demanding job that she loves and a daughter who she makes no secret she's enamored with. I love reading her posts, they're poignant, thoughtful, cheerful, contemplative, and/or excellent, depending on the topic.

The Moderate Voice - Joe Gandelman's site. Joe is a journalist who does a lot of political posts. Some of what he writes is left of center, some right, but he usually has a pretty good point when he posts. His co-bloggers are all top notch, as well. Perhaps the best indication that he's truly a moderate is the fact that every week there's someone from either the far left or the far right who asks him how he can call himself a moderate based on one of his posts.

12-e - Sam hasn't posted in months, probably because he's busy with mock trial, moot court, law review, law school, tutoring, teaching, and general life. I think we can excuse him.

War Professor - EP is one of the first bloggers I met and is still one of my favorites. She is working on her dissertation right now, and is teaching at a college here in TX (hence the name). She writes some very excellent posts and welcomes all opinions. Stop by; you'll be glad you did.

And there you have it. Something quick about all my links. Thanks for keeping me reading, everyone. I enjoy it, and I'm sure I'll be adding to this as I go along.

It's Monday!

Rise and shine! A whole new week of work, school, transit and excitement is waiting for you! It's a great day to be alive! Now, go sock it to 'em!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Should I go to law school?

I'm very happy that I decided to go to law school. However, there are times where I've wondered if it was the best choice, or what I really wanted to do. I know I'm not the only one, and I know there are many who have gone through law school only to decide they don't want to be lawyers, or don't even want to use their law degree, for that matter. I now know better where I want to practice (that is to say I've narrowed down by figuring out where I DON'T want to practice).

So, I figured I'd offer up advice to anyone who typed in the title into google or yahoo. Law school is a serious commitment; something that can really narrow your career options. As such, it's not something you should "just do." Think about it. I mean, really, think about it. If you are on the fence, or anywhere leaning toward not wanting to go to law school, then perhaps you shouldn't. If you have your mind set on going to one law school, then do you really want to be a lawyer, or do you want to have a law degree from X school? Seriously, if you'd rather be a "Notre Dame Law Student" than a "Law student," then perhaps law isn't the right path for you. Ultimately what law school does is give you connections and job opportunities. The degree itself is the same anywhere, whether you matriculate at South Texas College of Law, or Samford or University of Idaho or Yale. Your reputation will be what you make it. If you can't get that, then perhaps you need to find a different way to spend the next three years of your life. You'll be happier in the long run.

On insider trading

All holders of financial community are entitled to parity of information. The question is whether a person had inside information, not whether the person is an insider. The majority rule in Common law was that the director or officer of a corp could trade in its stock without disclosing material nonpublic information concerning the corp that he acquired through his position. This is the concept of insider trading.

Under SEC section 10b(5), insider trading is not allowed. The general rule of thumb is the reasonable man/investor test. If a reasonable man knew the information, would he buy sell or hold with the information? Look at the probability of the event known by the insider and the magnitude of the profits if it came to be. The higher the probability and magnitude, the better chance it qualifies as insider information.

There is a window where the insiders may not trade. This window opens when hope of the event turns into expectancy. It closes again when there is full disclosure of all facts in the widest dissemination vehicle possible (usually, this is the Wall Street Journal).

This is not to say that officers who come into possession of material information are obligated to disclose the information if there's a valid business reason for nondisclosure. Rather it merely means that they may not profit from that information through transactions in the corporation's secutiries as a result of that nondisclosure. More later.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

If not for bad news

I've lost my wallet. Understand, it's completely my fault. I took it out of my pocket and I put it on a table, well within reach of the children. And we all know kids can't resist playing with something they're not supposed to play with. Which means now, instead of driving to school to study, I'm scouring the house for a little patch of leather with my driver's license and a receipt from Jason's Deli in it.

Showing my age

I consider school to be a reasonably safe environment. Typically there will be a few fights, but on the whole, it's not a place where you're afraid for your child's safety or well being.

I also consider school to be a place for education and social development.

I think that when children are in school, they need to focus on school. If parents need to get ahold of their students to pass on messages, they call the office and leave a message that will get to the student.

Because of this, I understand and agree with the determination that Cell phones ought not be used in schools by students.

Currently, there is a push in New York City by parents to try to get approval for students to keep their cell phones during the school day (whether or not a 15 year old needs a cell phone is a completely different story). One argument, forwarded by City Councilwoman Letitia James is that the students should be able to keep them, so long as they're turned off. "Quite simply, this is a safety issue ... it's a safety issue we have to resolve," she said in this article. Now, I'm not so sure how this ability to keep a cell phone that's turned off can help in emergencies if the students are in class and the PHONE IS TURNED OFF so they can't get the message, but I'm not the expert here. The school board points to other "nefarious" uses of the phones, such as using them to cheat on tests or to take inappropriate photos in the locker rooms.

While I'm somewhat sympathetic, though disagree with, the safety argument, I can't bring myself to agree with the idea that searching for and confiscating cell phones during the school day amounts to a civil rights violation. From the article above: "'We talk about schools as prisons in this city,' said Cecilia Blewer, a parent of two. 'They're being acculturated to accept prison conditions. What I Want to know is how they're teaching civics with a straight face any more. How would they explain the arbitrary searches and invasion of privacy?'

Well, actually, there's a limited right of privacy in a school, and if policy is against the possession of cell phones and there's a reasonable belief that students have cell phones, then searches are reasonable. That's how one might explain it.

And when all else fails, there's my son's favorite argument, "That's not fair!" Again, from the article: "'The teachers still use their cell phones and the kids can't,' said 15-year-old Ellia Munoz, a ninth-grader in Manhattan. 'They don't have to take the cell phones. They can just see them turned off.'" Because we all know that teenagers who turn a phone off can't POSSIBLY turn it back on again.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Wishing I was fishing

I took a break yesterday from studying to look at Google Earth. I found the lake where my family's cabin is. I wish I was there right now instead of studying for finals. I could really go for a day in the rowboat casting for Bass and Pike.

On intelligent design

Any religious education program instituted in a public school system has to survive the Lemon test, from Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). There has to be a legitimate secular purpose, with a primary effect that neither promotes nor hinders a particular religious belief, and the activity must not foster excessive entanglement between the governmental activity and religious concerns. There is another, similar test known as the Endorsement Test, which recognizes that when a government crosses the neutral line and acts in a manner that shows religious favoritism, then the first amendment's Establishment Clause has been violated.

When facing a proposal such as Intelligent Design, the court must look at the intent of the law, not just the words on the face. This is clear from the following:
"The Supreme Court has consistently held not only that legislative history can and must be considered in ascertaining legislative purpose under Lemon, but also that statements by a measure's sponsors and chief proponents are strong indicia of such purpose." McCreary County v. ACLU, 125 S. Ct. 2722, 2734 (2005).

What does this mean for Intelligent Design? It means we have to look at (pardon the pun) the evolution of ID over the years. We started with states passing (or attempting to pass) anti-evolution statutes, which were struck down in Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968). From there, states tried to enact equal treatment statutes, which failed in part because the people proposing such statutes made errors in drafting (for example, statutes that required evolutionary texts be labeled as "theory" while biblical/Genesis texts did not). The next step was to change the cover of Creationism by giving it a new name. Instead of being "Creationism," it became "Creation-science" or "Scientific Creationism." These concepts were forwarded often forwarded by fundamentalists or groups with fundamentalist backing. The concept itself arose specifically from Genesis, which, combined with the stated intent of many of the original backers of CS (Arkansas' proposed Creation science Act, where in deposition, promoter Paul Ellwanger, admitted that the language of the act had been revised to insert "creation science" in place of creationism because creationism was, in Ellwanger's impression, too religious a term [from depositions for McClean v. Arkansas Board of Education, 529 F. Supp. 1255]). This led to a change in terminology from Creation-Science to the current term "Intelligent Design," which purports to include potential "designers" outside the book of Genesis. After Edwards v. Aguillard struck down Creation Science nationally (it's a Supreme Court case), Intelligent Design came to the forefront. However, the concept of Intelligent Design is not a new one. Indeed it stems from St. Thomas Aquinas, who proposed ID as a purposeful arrangement of parts from an intelligent designer, which Kitzmiller expert witness Dr. John Haught stated "everyone knows it to be God." In Kitzmiller, even the defense witnesses conceded that many of the proponents of ID believe the designer to be God, which indicates the intent of the ID movement.
Even more damaging to the ID program are the "Wedge Documents." From Kitzmiller:
The Wedge Document states in its "Five Year Strategic Plan Summary" that the IDM's goal is to replace science as currently practiced with "theistic and Christian science." (P-140 at 6). As posited in the Wedge Document, the IDM's "Governing Goals" are to "defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies" and "to replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God."
Kitzmiller v. Allegheny County, 400 F. Supp. 707, 720

Additionally in Kitzmiller, one of the school board members repeatedly made statements at meetings expressing a desire to reintegrate religion in the public schools. Combined with the subsequent passage of the ID program and the conclusion that ID is a religious instruction program in disguise, you have a problem, and a violation of the establishment clause as a government entity (the school board) is attempting to establish religion (through ID).
(This is a VERY quick and abridged overview of Kitzmiller. I highly recommend reading the entire case to anyone who is interested in how the ID program failed to pass judicial muster.)

So the problem remains how could one integrate ID into public schools? The problem is not what the proposed ID program might be; rather the problem is from where ID came. The purpose of Intelligent Design is not to propose a different option to students; it's to propose a Biblical/Genesis option to students. It completely overlooks other possibilities, such as Romulus and Remus, or the Korean Mother Bear, or whatever other hypotheses are out there. From my estimation, it would be impossible to create a working ID program for public education. However, a world religions class, or a creation-theory class that encompassed several hypotheses and granted equal time for each to the student could possibly work, if it was facially neutral in proposal and offered no proselytizing whatsoever. That is for a different post, though.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Random Trivia

Ketchup was once available not just as tomato variety, but also Oyster, Walnut, Lobster, and Banana, (among others)


I don't make up my random trivia. If I made it up, it wouldn't be trivia. Click here or here or here or here for supporting websites.

Close Corporations

A close corporation is a type of private corporation that only has a small number of shareholders and are often characterized by owner management and restrictions on the transferability of ownership interests.

There's not much market for shares, and there are restrictions on transferability. Often comes in a form of mandatory buyback provisions - if one owner leaves, the company can buy back his shares before they can be sold in any other way.

There is a specific close corporation statute in Texas (Part 12 of the TBCA) but it's rarely used. The majority of AOIs filed here are generic Close Corporations.

Often similar to partnerships, as all the directors/shareholders and directors (which are necessary in corporations) are all the same people.

Flat tire

that's what I saw on my front passenger side as I went to get my books and computer from the trunk of my car at school this morning. I've kind of been waiting on this to happen. Fortunately, the parking lot is less than a block away from Goodyear, so I can get a new tire fairly quickly. It's about time for a new one, anyway.

Still, it's not exactly fun.

Stupid Tires

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Business Judgment Rule

Typically a corporation's directors can avoid liability for making bad decisions because we presume that they have acted out of the intent to enhance shareholder value. When using the defense of the business judgment rule, three elements are involved. First, you must show that the director acted in good faith. Second, you have to show that he or she performed adequate investigation and third, used that information when deciding how to act.

When there is a situation where there is unsettled law on a matter, and reasonable people can differ as to the proper course of action, then there is no standing for suit when a director elects one course of action over the other. Basically, to violate the business judgment rule, you have to have a showing that the director acted in a way that even a brain-dead monkey with postnasal drip would know to be bad for the company.

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Sunny day today
And I'm in the library...
Darn Corporations!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Stephen Colbert again

I've found a link to the speech from Saturday night - not having cable, I can't watch C-Span, which isn't usually a bad thing. Watching Congress in session is like watching lint sitting on a linoleum floor, only with less action.

Click here to get a chance to see it for yourself and decide what you think.

Americablog comments on a USNews article here.

I don't know that everything America Blog says is true, but if even two of them are, then what does that say?

Tuesday Essay Question

Should capital punishment be allowed? Or is it cruel and unusual? If the purpose of capital punishment is to keep crime down, does the fact that the crime rate/violent crime rate is lower in states that have abolished capital punishment help or hurt that notion? I know most of us have answered this question at some point, but it's something to think about and give a reasoned answer to. Enjoy, and, as always, grades will be arbitrary and capricious.

Laws of Corporation

When determining whether an individual in a corporation or the corporation itself has violated the law, there are three places you look, in descending order:

1. The first level of the law of corporation is the articles of incorporation, including the articles and by-laws.

2. The second level is the statutes (corporations are state controlled, with a few federal regulations thrown in)

3. The third level is Common Law (CL)

What does this mean? It means when looking at potential violations, the court will first look to the by-laws in the certificate of incorporation for the rules of decision and determine whether the actions at issue conflict with the by-laws. If they do not and are "legal" within the bylaws, the court looks to the statutes to see if the by-laws and the actions are in conflict with the statutes. Lastly, the court will look to see if there are any CL cases that speak to the issue.

At least, that's how I understand it. I welcome clarification on errant points.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Finals Mode

Today marked the last day of classes for the spring 2006 semester, which means we're now officially in prep time for finals. Unlike previous semesters, where I said I'd take a blog break and focus only on studying, I'm going to drop that pretense this semester. Blogging is pretty close to my only escape these days, and taking random breaks from studying is therapeutic and something I desparately need. My blogging won't be my standard fare, though, as I'm going to try to incorporate it with my finals study. This means that the topics you're going to read on here are going to be interesting to me and quite possibly nobody else in the civilized world, but I'll try to keep it educational and fun. Bear with me.

Sign of the Apocalypse?

Anna Nicole Smith won the chance to sue for her late husband's millions. Good for her. It's obvious that he wnated her to have the money, inasmuch as he didn't put her in his will. But that's neither here nor there. She is entitled to this chance!