Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wedding Bells

The wife and I went to a wedding last night; the first we've attended since our own wedding back in the old days. It was a nice ceremony with plenty of guests.

The wedding was up in Conroe, which is about 30 miles from Houston. I actually liked Conroe, and wish I could afford to live up there. I'm not much for city life. The lake was nice, the area was quiet, and it's not so far away that the wife would be yearning for returning to the bustle of the city...

But for now we stay in Houston, hot, humid Houston.

This is funny

A man goes into the hospital for some tests. After a little while, the doctor comes back and says "I have good news and bad news."
"Well, give me the bad news first, doc."
"I'm afraid you've got two hours to live."
"Two hours?! That's horrible! That's absolutely terrible! Oh my, two hours. What in the world... I've got so much... Oh Lord, with news like that, how could there possibly be good news?"
"Well, they're going to name a disease after you!"

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The poor for political gain

In a move that looks politically very bad, the House passed a bill yesterday that would raise minimum wage over the next three years. The Republicans attached to that bill a provision that would drastically reduce estate taxes for the richest americans and provide other tax breaks.

Here's the problem as I see it.

Raising the minimum wage should help the economy. This comes from reports I've seen in the news that indicate the economy has grown faster in states that increased minimum wage on their own than the states that haven't done so.

The cut in estate tax may actually be good, because as the current law is written, estate taxes are to go up to 55% in 2011 for estates higher than $1 million. This provides an impetus for those whose estates would fit that description to avoid inheritance by looking to will substitutes. By decreasing the tax, more people are likely to utilize this option and will provide more money via this tax.

The problem comes from the packaging. What americans see is a raise in minimum wage for the poorest people in America, who live well below the poverty line, while granting more tax breaks to the super-rich. That doesn't look good phrased like that. It comes across looking like a political ploy, trying to show the country that Republicans are interested in raising minimum wage, so long as Democrats are willing to go through with the tax breaks. If it fails in the Senate, the Republicans can say "we tried to raise minimum wage, but the Democrats refused to help."

I don't disagree with the tax cuts in this case. I think the packaging is bad, seemingly transparent, as the article I linked to suggests, but I think from a revenue standpoint, it won't be as bad as people fear.

Friday, July 28, 2006

In-laws

The in-laws are coming in today. I'm rather excited, as I enjoy when they visit. Here's hoping this is a pleasant visit.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mixed Emotions

President Bush signed into law today the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act in a public ceremony at the Rose Garden. Interestingly, the bill he vetoed last week, he did quietly, with no press around, but I digress.

The act requires convicted child molesters to be listed on a national internet database and would make it a felony to not update their whereabouts. It will also:
Establish a comprehensive federal DNA database of material collected from convicted molesters, and procedures for the routine DNA collection and comparison to the database when someone has been convicted of such an offense; provide federal funding for states to track pedophiles using global positioning devices; allow victims of child abuse to sue their molesters; and others.

I have mixed emotions about this law. On the one hand, I think a person who has been convicted of a crime and has served their sentence, deserves to start anew, as sentencing theoretically is how long it should take for the individual to learn their lesson/rehabilitate. If the person hasn't rehabilitated, then what point of sending them to prison in the first place? By that logic, then a person who has served his sentence should not have to be subjected to an additional lifetime sentence on top of his punitive sentence (in theory). Additionally, there are a number of sex offenders whose offense was against one individual, say, their girlfriend, who was a minor after they reached majority. It seems as though subjecting them to a lifetime of protecting themselves from threat of felony conviction for not updating their names is a little harsh.

On the other hand, there is an abnormally high rate of recividism on the part of child sex offenders, and the government does have an obligation to promote the general welfare. As such, protecting children from potential repeat offenders does become an important aspect of the law.

Then there's the slippery slope argument, one that is unlikely, but should be viewed nonetheless. Requiring the monitoring on this level of one group of criminals makes it easier to justify doing so to another group, and so on, until it comes to a point of monitoring potential criminals, and then monitoring everyone. If everyone is monitored, then they are not free, and that is potentially just as dangerous. Like I said, it's unlikely, and I really glossed over it, but there is that potential.

All in all, I can't say as I really disagree with the law; I just have some reservations about it, I guess, on principle.

Interesting read

I don't know that what the author says is true, but I do like how he wrote it. Michael Hirsch at Newsweek put out an article where he discusses the tactics used to fight the insurgency in Iraq; how it turned into essentially a military smash and grab, taking all men who were of military age, and the carting off of many of them to Abu Graib, or wherever, the majority of whom were not insurgents, but many who have become so as a result of our military's actions.

He describes how President Bush took a war on terror that had allies in so many places, attacking a group of admitted murderers, between 500 and 1000 strong, and adding to it to such a point that people have difficulty defending the actions, including the muslims whom we're liberating. One such mistake is in commingling Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hizbollah, according to Hirsch. These groups were different from each other, had little common ground, and only one was a multi-continental threat. Now, we've put them all in the same pot, and then added so much more by deeming all who were "of age" insurgents.

Like I said, I don't know that his conclusions are right, but I like the writing, and I think he put his thoughts together well. I encourage you to click on the link and read the article for yourself.

Random Trivia

Back when bicycles first became popular, bike riders were known as bicycle jockeys. They rode their bicycles on the rough cobblestone streets of the 19th century, where the bumps on the metal, poorly padded bicycles could cause tremendous damage to a man's, umm, motivation. Thus, some ingenious individuals took to inventing a device that could protect a man's unmentionables, and an outfit with which they could keep everything in place. The protective device became known as the cup, and the protective device, which consisted of a few straps of fabric, came to be known as a bicycle jockey strap, which was, over time, shortened to jockstrap.

Potentially disgraceful

Floyd Landis won the Tour de France, in an amazing race. Many people had all but written him off, yet, somehow, he managed to emerge victorious. This was a great moment for U.S. cycling, who had an apparent heir to Lance Armstrong.

But hold the phone. Floyd Landis' team, Phonak, confirmed that he tested positive for excessive levels of testosterone. The positive test came after stage 17, where Landis dropped to 11th in the standings, and moved up to 3rd in the next race.

The world is still waiting for the "B" test to come back, but as it stands, Landis has been suspended by his team pending the results of the backup test.

For his sake, I hope that his test comes back negative. For cycling's sake, I hope the test comes back negative. I'll reserve any condemning until then.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Andrea Yates Not Guilty

Andrea Yates, the woman who made headlines for drowning her five children so they wouldn't grow up to become evil, who was convicted of murder, whose conviction was overturned, and who was given a new trial, was found not guilty of murder.

This does not mean that she is innocent. This means that she is not guilty. The reason given is insanity. The insanity defense is basically a last-ditch defense offered up by defense attorneys, and usually isn't used unless there's no other way to go. What happens is, the case is such a slam-dunk for the prosecution that there's no real way to defend your client, and she or he will go to jail, basically for the rest of his or her life, if not be subjected to capital punishment. Insanity, however, sends the defendant to an institution. These people have the glimmer of hope that someday they might recover from their insanity, and then be released back into the general populace. However, this is an extremely rare situation, where the hospital determines these people are sane enough to leave the hospital.

Andrea Yates won, but she won in name only.

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Home with three children
While rain's falling means no park
And one crazy dad

As always, I look forward to your submissions

This has to be every DA's biggest fear

Imagine, you have a murder suspect. The case isn't the strongest, indeed you don't even have a body. Yet, you proceed with the case, and despite a weak case, you win. You convince a jury that this man committed murder. The man goes to jail. A year later, in another part of the country, a woman is arrested and jailed for theft. This woman just happens to be the woman that the man you sent to prison was found guilty of murdering.

This same situation recently happened in Pakistan. There's really nothing to say that it wouldn't happen here. What's troubling to me is the apparent ease by which a prosecutor could find him or herself in this position. We're trained to believe that when the police arrest someone, they must be guilty, because they wouldn't arrest an innocent person. We see it on television and in the movies all the time. The prosecutors' job is to make sure the bad guys go to jail, and the slimy defense attorneys are looking at holes in the system to jump through so that the wonderful "defense advantage" of "reasonable doubt" saves them. As I surmised a couple days ago, while our system presumably is "innocent until proven guilty," we seem to be trained in a Pavlovian manner to believe the opposite is true. This is what makes defense attorneys necessary for the preservation of our way of life. People might not like them, but in a jam, there's nobody you'd rather have on your side.

The daughter is sick

She woke up today with a headache. So we went downstairs and got some Tylenol for her. This caused the little boy to get upset because I didn't give him Tylenol as well. Then I made breakfast for the kids. Oatmeal for the boys, and scrambled eggs for the daughter, who ate about 1/3 of it. The boys each only had about 1/3 of their oatmeal, as well. I don't give them treats, so I'm not sure why they decided not to eat breakfast, but, I had to dump the oatmeal, because there are few bonds in the world more powerful than dried oatmeal on a bowl.

The daughter then informed me that she needed some chocolate milk to feel better. She didn't ask me, she informed me. When I said no, she gave me a very clear medical diagnosis, "but I need it to feel better, it's ok." She wants to be a doctor when she grows up, and I think she's got the tone to do it.

A little while later she comes up to me with a Coca-cola. "Here daddy, I brought you a Coky-cola!" I declined, inasmuch as I already had a Coke sitting next to me. "It's ok, daddy, you need it. I'll give it to you and you can have it after you finish that one!" How do you say no to a 4-year old who speaks so enthusiastically? So I let her put it on the table. Then, to ensure that I need the new Coky-cola, she magnanimously offers to finish my other Coky-cola. What a sweetheart, always looking out for my best interests, and putting others first. Who else would be so selfless as to finish one's Coky-cola so they could have another one?

She's feeling better now.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pandering to the Base 101

I confess I don't read The Daily Anti-Abortionist or any other anti-choice type periodicals, nor am I aware anything like them exist. Therefore, I must say I'm not 100% "in the loop" when it comes to the need for this, but, apparently, Congress is close to passing a bill that would make it a felony to take teenagers across state lines to acquire abortions. Not that there's a connection here, or anything, but this is an election year, and the party of family values is afraid of losing some of its seats, and possibly its majority.

The bill, which passed the House and is on its way to the Senate, does just what it says above. It would make a felon of anyone who takes a teenager who is not their child across state lines without that teenager's parent(s)'s knowledge. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, saw fit to not carve out an exemption for confidants of the teen. Because, let's face it, looking like we care about families is more important than helping a teenager get some kind of protection against a potentially hostile environment. Therefore, Congress had little choice but to go through with this bill.

Has there been a rash of state-line crossing for abortions in the recent past? I'm not sure I've seen too much literature on the matter, nor have I heard much in the news about this reaching epidemic levels that need attention. It strikes me as a red herring to draw attention away from the things that have gone wrong over the past several years (Terri Schiavo's situation - another family values SNAFU, Iraq's 'mission accomplished,' 'Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job,' No Child Left Behind, Social Security Reform, Valerie Plame, Tom DeLay, UAE Ports, Oil prices, Afghanistan, Abu Graib, Guantanamo Bay, national debt, signing statements, et al.), and try to find a hot button non-issue that can galvanize the base and perhaps toss a smokescreen against the stuff that has America upset with the status quo.

Bad Congress, Bad.

Tuesday Essay Question

I haven't done many essay questions this month, as I've been having a bit of writer's block. This one doesn't necessarily promise to be terribly thought provoking, but I hope it's one that you can have fun coming up with an answer to.

Should the FCC regulate what goes on network television more closely, so that TV more resembles the '50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s? How about cable? Does the government have a responsibility to ensure that children and families are not subjected to irresponsible levels of sex, violence, or language?

I look forward to hearing your replies.

Monday, July 24, 2006

What if he attaches a signing statement to this?

Senator Spector announced that he plans to have a bill put together by the end of the week that would allow Congress to sue President Bush in federal court. This comes on the heels of an ABA committee determining that the President's use of signing statements amounts to a sidestep of his Constitutional duty to sign a bill, veto it, or take no action, according to this Yahoo! article.

Now president Bush is not the first president to use signing statements, but he has issued some 750 of them during his presidency, and unlike many of his predecessors, his signing statements essentially say "I want this to be the law, but it won't apply to me." I think it's egregious that this has come to such a point that some people in Congress feel they have to pass a law to sue the president to make him obey the Constitution. The President should be limited, and should know that he's limited, in power, not keep trying to add a little more to his playbook. Good for Senator Spector. Bad for President Bush.

Today is the first day as a single parent

The wife left yesterday afternoon. Yesterday I survived basically through bribery. We went to Dairy Queen, then had pizza for dinner. Today, we've been a little more busy. I took them to the mall to play at the playplace, get The Boy a haircut, and buy some necessary items at Target, including Hi-ho Cherry-o. This is to keep the daughter occupied, as she's in the right age bracket. Fortunately, The Boy seems to enjoy it, as well, though not as much as the computer, which he seems intent on trying to spend his entire childhood on. We are pretty good about monitoring him on the computer and the time he spends on the computer, so it's not too dire...

We're having chili-cheese dogs tonight. It's fun being dad.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

How to attract visitors

Lake Balaton in Hungary has suffered from decreased tourism since the fall of communism. In an effort to increase business, the tourism authority has undertaken an ad campaign, the message of which is essentially "come here and have sex on a boat."

Click on the link for more details, but the article says that essentially the ad is sent via e-mail and shows a man taking off his wedding ring then being impressed at a blonde woman taking off her bra.

I guess every country needs their magic kingdom...

Presumed Innocent?

In our justice system, each defendant is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. I was wondering, do you think that is the case? Have we been trained over the years to believe that the police wouldn't arrest someone and the District Attorney would not prosecute someone unless that person was, in fact, guilty? I've heard people say stuff closely along those lines in the past, and I wonder if that is in fact the case. Do we say we presume them innocent yet assume they did it? Is it the duty of the defense attorney to dissuade against this predisposition? Or do we do a sufficient job of policing ourselves against any potential prejudices and give a fair trial?

Our system of justice was set up as a result of distrust of the government, to give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant. The government, since that time has established a powerful spin program to show that they are in fact doing good, and I don't doubt that many believe they are doing good. But do those efforts result in unfair trials for potential defendants?

I'm posing a question, not proposing a position. Feel free to weigh in on your own; I'd like to hear the opinions.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Planned parenting?

The wife is going to Orlando tomorrow for a business trip. She will be gone until Wednesday night. The timing is superb, inasmuch as my in-laws (i.e. her parents) are coming in on Friday. This means that midsummer cleaning falls on my hands alone. I think the wife scheduled this training on this week on purpose to not have to help out around the house. She's pretty devious, setting training for 20 different offices in 8 states and two countries for the one week before her parents get into town, which she didn't know would happen until after the training was set. I'm impressed at her moxy.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Another Question

Today must be my pondering day.

Here's the situation. A man is involved in a car accident, not his fault. He is injured, but the insurance company doesn't want to pay for his treatment. The accident occurs in a parking lot, so the police are not called, but there are witnesses. The injured party comes to the law office looking for representation to get treated for the injury. The catch is that this person is an undocumented immigrant (illegal alien). Do you take this case? Should you take this case?

It's a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, you have an injured individual who is being denied compensation for his treatment. It seems wrong to deny a person treatment for an injury that the insured is responsible for causing. However, this person is an illegal immigrant. He is, by definition, violating the law every day. Is it right to avail this person to the possible legal avenues when he is willing to be a daily lawbreaker. But, is it right to allow one wrongdoer to go unpunished because his act of wrongdoing happened to injure an illegal alien?

Question

Are things as they appear between Israel and Lebanon? I understand Israel is attacking Lebanon to strike at Hezbollah, but with the technology that Israel possesses, one would surmise that it would be possible for the Israeli forces to not inflict substantial civilian casualties.

Word on the street is that the news regarding the extent of Lebanese Civilian Casualties is not being accurately reported in the West, and that Israel is really striking rather wantonly. But that's a rumor for now.

Would Israel at any point be looked at as an aggressor, as opposed to "hitting back?" Is Lebanon a country in a no-win situation? They couldn't contain Hezbollah (not a wouldn't, a couldn't), and are ill-equipped to fight against the might of Israel. Do we think less of these casualties on account of their being "them?" Did they ask for it?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thursday

We went to the park today. On the way, we stopped to get some water because we live in Texas and the starting temperature is 210, with about 210% humidity. This turned out to be a good idea, because the kids' favorite activity at the playground was to swing on the swings and have me squirt water at them.

I kind of miss the magic of water in the summer...

Random Trivia

Snails can sleep for up to three years without eating.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rein them in!

Some people get in a big rip over whether or not their kids should have to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. This has manifested itself into many lawsuits, one of the more recent ones being a ninth district court of appeals case in which the Pledge was defined as a prayer, and thus violated the Endorsement clause of the First Amendment. My opinion, essentially, is that if they take out the phrase "under God" then there's really nothing to worry about.

However, apparently, the courts have gone too far. This is evidenced by the House of Representatives OK-ing a bill that would strip jurisdiction from federal courts. In essence, the bill would set it that any debate on the Pledge needs to be resolved in state courts.

Now, I'm not sure that this bill, if it were to pass the Senate and get signed into law by President Bush (who actually vetoed something today!), would actually be Constitutional. See, the Pledge gets challenged under the First Amendment, and under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, from what I remember, which is sketchy, as it was two years ago that I took the class, if something raises a Constitutional question, then the Federal Courts have jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court has appellate Jurisdiction. Since this comes from the Constitution, whose article VI states that it is the Supreme Law of the Land, then, it would seem that this is much ado about nothing during a voting year to rouse the base and show that the God-loving republicans are serious about defending our heritage as a Christian nation at the expense of all other religions that help make this country what it is.

My soapbox is over for the day.

I'm not sure what else they'd use...

The headline reads: Farmers use bull semen to inseminate cows. I'm not sure, of course, but I have a hunch that this runs along the lines of "people use air to breathe."

The article is about selective breeding, much like what was done the old fashioned way, it's just catching up with new technology. I'll leave the debate whether it's right or wrong up to y'all. I merely enjoy the headline.

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Went to the high school
The kids managed to get wet
but sprinklers weren't on...

As always, I look forward to your contributions

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Went to the high school
The kids managed to get wet
but sprinklers weren't on...

As always, I look forward to your contributions

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It's not illegal if nobody tells you it is.

At least, that seems to be the mentality of the president when it comes to the eavesdropping program. He says it's legal, and we know that when he says it's legal, it's legal. After all, he did graduate from the best law school in the country, wait no he didn't. Legal expertise must come from being head of the judicial branch, wait, no, he's not in the judiciary, he's an executive. Which is why he can continue to do what many surmise to be illegal because nobody in a position to tell him otherwise has told him otherwise. This might be due, however, to his denial of security clearances for investigators into the program. If you want to make sure that you don't get in trouble for doing something you shouldn't be doing, then it helps to not give the nosey parkers access to what they need to make an informed decision.

If it's not illegal, then why deny access to the program? If it is illegal, then is it not wrong to deny access to the investigators?

More on Chess

I've played chess daily with my son since my last post about chess, which was less than a week ago, I'm sure. He seems to enjoy it, and while I don't let him win usually, I do try to give him pointers while he plays. I'm really impressed with how well he is handling himself with the game, though he's not much beyond just moving the pieces at this point. Still, someday, he'll get better, as long as he keeps wanting to try.

One opening I'd like to teach him is the Caro-Kann. It's not a terribly dynamic defense, as it sacrifices position for security, and as black, you have to be somewhat patient when you play, and allow white to overextend himself.

White opens with e4. Black answers with ... c6. White then plays d4, which is answered with a ... e5. This is the basic position for Caro-Kann. White has many options from here, but the normal variation has his Queen Knight developing, N-c3. Black then captures white's e-pawn, ... dxe4. White must then recapture with Nxe4, which gives Black a target in the middle of the board.

Black plays the ideal Bf5, developing a piece and attacking white's knight, which has no ideal defense, and must withdraw. Usually, this will be Ng3, which in turn attacks the bishop. Black likes to try to hold on to his bishop, so he will retreat, Bg6, which maintains its claim on the center. White will then develop his King Knight, Nf3, and Black will develop his, Nf6. This is where many of the variations begin to take place, so I won't go into too deep an analysis right now, but it's a solid opening with good chances for black, if he's patient and doesn't try to force the action.

Bulk mail

I got three letters today. They came from various law firms in and around Houston. They were not offering me employment, however, inasmuch as I'm not so much in demand, what being a C+ student from a fourth tier law school. No, the letters were to sell their wares as attorneys who would zealously represent me and my interests for the tickets I received back at the end of June. For the low, low price of either $25/50/75 (a little of each was offered), these wonderful law firms will take my case, after a free consultation, and help me with my tickets.

Now, if you read my blog, you know that I'm a law student. You also know that I already handled these tickets, and I got them dismissed for free.

And to think I could have received a free consultation at three local law firms.

Oh well...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Overexposure

The year after I graduated from high school, our principal made the news for confiscating students' yearbooks to tear out a picture a student had drawn of her that she considered unflattering. This act of cutting (vice tearing as I said above) damaged the binding and resulted in the yearbooks falling apart. The student said that the picture was placed in the yearbook to honor the teacher, and that it was a heartfelt picture. Now I saw the picture, and it was (in my opinion) rather unflattering, and given that the principal was somewhat unpopular with a good portion of the student body, I would not be surprised if the picture was placed in there as a backhanded compliment, if you will. I think the kids got caught doing exactly what the principal thought they were doing, and they just happened to have a convenient excuse to defend themselves.

Now, what happens, however, if there is a picture in a yearbook that is inadvertently placed? Let's say your picture is taken during a basketball game, and your genitalia is clearly shown from the angle of the picture? If you're a minor, and this picture of your genitals is published, do the publishers and distributors of the picture face child pornography charges? What about the school? What about the students on the yearbook staff? What if they delay in suppressing the yearbook? Does that change your answer? Who is responsible for paying for the therapy for the mental anguish you (probably) suffer from having your genitals exposed to the entire school?

The trial undoubtedly will end up in most tort texts after it winds up. I'm interested in finding out the outcome.

"Over my dead body"

I understand that a lot of people, especially a lot of Congresspeople, believe that the Supreme Court needs to have cameras in it. Ostensibly, this is to allow the rest of America to see what goes on in those hallowed halls, and to ensure that the American Way is protected.

But, The Court hasn't been televised at any point in America's history, and we've done rather well without it being televised, except possibly with Erie, Pennoyer v. Neff, Hamdi, Scott, and Plessy v. Ferguson (and a few others).

The point is, there's really no need to televise the Supreme Court, other than to give Congress a chance to keep tabs on who they believe are "activists" and to fuel the notion that there should be term limits for Justices (once they start issuing a few too many "activist" opinions).

Fortunately, the Chief Justice doesn't think there is a need for cameras, and neither do any of the other justices on the Court, according to this article. That's a fine thing, if you ask me. There's not really any excitement going on in the Court, it's not like there are rainmakers and serious oral arguments, or anything. It would probably be more boring than watching the House on C-Span. In other words, we're not missing Judge Judy or Mathis, or anything. If we were, then they definitely should put The Court on TV, right after Springer.

Chess

The Boy is becoming interested in chess. I like this, in that I like to play chess. I also like the game as a general rule for kids, as it's something that requires thought.

He's just learning the basics right now, but perhaps in the next year or so we can start strategy and theory. It will be his pace and his choice, though. I don't care for the stage moms and dads that I see at tournaments.

I've started flipping through a couple of my older books, like on the Caro-Kann and the Pirc. It's good to refresh my mind with it. Perhaps I'll try a couple tournaments this year. It's been a while.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Nutrition

My wife and I believe in teaching proper nutrition. However, we know how reluctant children are to listen to their parents when their parents are right (yet they always remember when parents are wrong). So, we have stumbled upon the Reverse Psychology method to teaching nutrition.

The plan is this: We give the children all sorts of junk to eat. Hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, deep fried cheese and doughcicles, etc. for each meal. Then, we order healthy-ish, and let them "snack" on our "treats." Then, for snack time, instead of candy, chips, etc., we "let" the kids have a treat by giving them peas or green beans.

Children love anything they think is a treat, and they have a natural aversion to anything you put in front of them. I think we've stumbled onto a winner!

(note: the preceding was mostly untrue and recited for humor purposes, only. However, my children do enjoy snacking on frozen peas)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Birthday Dinner

I recently turned 32. We decided to go out for dinner tonight to celebrate, since we had a little too much going on on my birthday to go out then.

We like going out to eat, because it gives the daughter an excuse to use a new bathroom. It's pretty much a given that when we go to a restaurant, the daughter will have to use the restroom. Even if she goes right before we leave (we've specifically sent her to the bathroom right before we left before), as soon as we sit down at the restaurant, she's got to use the potty. there must be something rather exotic about the ladies' rooms at Logan's, Fuddrucker's, Cliff's, Mama's Cafe, James Coney Island, etc.

Anyway, we went to a dinner, and for whatever reason, I ordered a salad. I can't say as I remember ever ordering a salad at dinner before, except at the chow hall... And I enjoyed it.

I hate growing up.

Saturday

I've got less than a month before I start the fall semester. Where does the time go?

I'm excited, though, as it's my last year of school, and then I can start stressing about the Bar.

Today we're going to the mall, so the Wife can get a dress for her co-worker's wedding. I'm going to take the kids to the playplace, where they can frolic and I can run out of breath a little more slowly chasing after the little boy.

It should be fun.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Inlaws

The inlaws are coming out at the end of the month. I'm excited about this, as I like the inlaws. Father in law is a cribbage player, and though he refuses to play chess (I beat him the first time; SSgt beating Col [ret]... musta bruised his ego), I still plan on asking him. Mother in law is one of the nicest women ever. Wife and I are blessed with great parents all around.

My latest hopes for fishing are on Aug. 5. Anyone want to come along?

This is funny

A man in Berlin, who was on trial for theft, stole some keys from the judge. That's not a good way to plead not guilty. However, the trial has been suspended to determine if the judge is now biased.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

More Random Trivia

Jackie Robinson was not the first black player in the Major Leagues. That honor goes to one Moses "Fleet" Walker.

Look it up.

Random Trivia

Rudolph Hess was the last prisoner in the Tower of London. He was there for four days.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Halfway through summer
And I have not vacated
Yet. The lake's too far.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bible Stories

We are not regular church goers, though we do go on occasion. I think we might be due for another visit. While the kids were out playing with the sidewalk chalk today, The Boy drew a six-sided star, and taught me a bible lesson.

"This is the star of Jericho."
"Don't you mean the Star of David?"
"No, this is the Star of Jericho. It's the star that led the Three Kings to Moses."

See, Joel Osteen has been teaching it all wrong.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Peace and Quiet

Today is the day Gramma leaves. She leaves this evening. We are enjoying a quiet day at home. The Boy and the Girl are hollering about the dominoes, the little boy is running around with a flag singing hoop-dee-doo (a Wiggles Song). At various points throughout the day, every child has screamed loudly about something, often for extended periods of time.

Gramma has played babysitter a lot this week. She says she enjoys getting the chance to do it, and I'm thankful for the chance to let her.

Today I had to go downtown to take care of traffic tickets. I got one for a broken tail light which wasn't broken. I think it was a scheme by the police officer to give a reason to cite me for the other reason he pulled me over - my registration had expired. He was behind me on a red light that we got stuck sitting through twice due to stupid drivers, and I think, given it was the last day of the month and quotas are due, he decided to run my license to see if there was anything he might be able to snag me on. Yup. (registration stickers go on the front of the car here, so you can't tell by looking at the license plate alone that it's expired.)

Anyway, he gave me a couple tickets, one for the light and one for the registration. I was really overdue on the registration, so I'm not really complaining about getting the ticket, but I'm not sure when I'd have been able to take care of it, since I worked during the normal business hours of the annex, hence couldn't go in and take care of it unless I didn't mind not getting paid, and I was already losing money working as it was (paycheck didn't cover daycare. So glad I'm in law school). But I digress. My registration was expired and I got cited for it.

The city gives you plenty of options for taking care of the ticket. Plead guilty, pay in full before your court date, or, in the case of registration, license, proof of insurance, etc., get it fixed within 10 days and mail in proof with a 10 dollar administrative fee and they will dismiss, except for registration, which they MAY dismiss. So I opted for that option, and went in on the next available business day to get my registration taken care of and buy a new light bulb for my tail light, which I ended up not needing. As I was getting everything ready to mail in, the proof of registration, etc., I realized that I couldn't figure out how to mark that I was sending in proof of compliance for one item and not for another... I got sufficiently frustrated to the point that I decided to go take care of it in person so I could talk to a real person.

So I get to the courthouse, eventually found a meter, paid for an hour and ten minutes, went in and got in line. Long story short, after waiting for a couple hours, they dismissed my tickets.

It was not fun, and I don't care to do it again for myself anytime soon, but at least I saved $220. Sometimes easier isn't better.

Things you should never have to say at home:

"You two stop beating each other with monkeys!" To the children

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Overuse is bad

Bookworm recently posted on a commercial she had come upon in which the purpose was to try to sway African-American voters from the Democrats. The methodology used was to compare the Democrats with Hitler and the African Americans with Jesse Owens. The alleged snub in the 1936 Olympics (which did not happen as it was reported) notwithstanding, Bookworm objects to the comparison of the Democrats to Hitler. Her rationale is that the overuse of the comparison of anything with which one disagrees to Hitler dilutes unacceptably the depths of the atrocities committed under his name. She asserts that the comparison to Hitler should be reserved for the most heinous of situations, citing Pol Pot, and Ahmadenijad (sp?).

I agree. There is no call for comparing Democrats to Hitler anymore than there would be comparing Republicans to Stalin. Hitler was evil, but that doesn't mean that all evil is Hitleresque. And using the comparison for political purposes is absolutely reprehensible, in my opinion.

It could trigger war!

North Korea's envoy to Australia warned that international attempts to halt its missile production could lead to war.

"It is a lesson taught by history and a stark reality of international relations, proven by the Iraqi crisis, that the upsetting of the balance of force is bound to create instability and spark even a war," (the envoy) Chon said. North Korea "will have no option but to take stronger physical actions of other forms, should any country dare take issue with the exercises and put pressure upon it," he added.

Now remember, we invaded Iraq for keeping WMDs and not allowing inspectors in. They defied us and we had to punish the regime. North Korea is doing the exact same thing, and the president is trying to do what he should have done with Iraq, gone in with the international community and put up a united front. However, the president's reputation, both domestically and internationally, has been damaged pretty good. Now the question is "why don't you do what you did in Iraq? North Korea is begging for it." Indeed, the Chonger has a human rights record that is darker than Hussein's. He uses threat of force as a bargaining tool. His country so believes that everyone else is as bad off as they are that they can't conceive of how well off their brothers and sisters in the South are. They are taught that Yankees are bastards who eat Korean babies. They have shooting ranges on the highways, where the people are obligated to get out of their vehicles (understand only the privileged get vehicles) and unload a clip at the silhouettes of the Imerialist Yankees. This country teaches and breeds hate in order to continue to survive, and we continue to allow it.

Kim Chong Il needs to be overthrown.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

1984

Lance Parrish
Dave Bergman
Lou Whitaker
Howard Johnson
Alan Trammel
Chet Lemon
Kirk Gibson
Larry Herndon
Darrell Evans

Jack Morris
Dan Petry
Milt Wilcox
Juan Berengeur
Dave Rozema
Willie Hernandez

And all the others who were part of the best team of the 1980s, thank you. It's been a long wait, but perhaps it's time to win a new title.

Saturday

The wife took Gramma to the craft store. They left all the children with me. I didn't realize wife and Gramma were evil.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday Chuckle

It's Halloween, and a little boy is dressed like his Hollywood hero, Captain Jack Sparrow. He knocks on a door, and a woman opens it and sees his costume.

"Oh a little pirate! But, where are your buccaneers?"

The boy looks at her and replies "Under my Bucking hat!"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Random Trivia

Great Britain is so named to distinguish itself from Lesser Britain, the region in northern France known now as Brittany.

I agree

The president is reportedly looking for international support in his condemnation of North Korea's missile launches. He said that any attempt to gain concessions from the launches would be rebuffed.

Now, this is not new for North Korea. Whenever they want more without having to work for it, they stir up controversy. Why not? It's worked so well in the past. The country cannot survive by itself. I think the president is right in looking for more international cooperation in this matter; perhaps he's learned that he needs the international community to be with him. If so, I applaud him. Good job on this one, President Bush.

I also think that the best thing the world can do for North Korea is to cease all aid to the country; let them implode. The people believe that their government is giving them all they have, and they believe the rest of the world is worse off than they. Take everything away, let the people revolt, then go in and assist them. Or, take everything away, wait for the country to explode, and then overthrow the country and reunify the peninsula.

Housework

Gramma is here visiting this week, which is great. We love having her here.

And, like most people, we use visitors as the catalyst for heavy housecleaning.

So the wife and I are straightening up in the living room, dining room, kitchen, etc.. We sent the kids upstairs to clean their rooms.

The little girl really doesn't "get" cleaning her room. She pretty much interprets anything we say as far as pick up to mean "let's play with this for a while."

The Boy, however, understands a little better what we mean by pick up. This is not to say, however, that he heeds our instructions, he merely understands them. So, the wife tells him to go clean his room and to start by picking up his books. He then goes into his room and starts playing with his cars. Mom tells him a couple more times he needs to pick up his books. (skip a few pages,) Finally, mom runs out of patience with the boy, who hasn't been listening. This is my cue to come offer some direction. I go in to The Boy's room, where I see his cars out, his stuffed animals all over the place, trash strewn about, books on the floor, folded clothes not put away, etc. I tell him to get to work, start by picking up the stuffed animals.

"But mom told me to put my books away."
"Are you putting them away?"
"No." (note, this is the full extent of his reply, but the real answer was more like "Dad, I've already got something I'm not doing. I'm far too busy not picking up my books right now. You're going to have to wait for me to get around to not picking up the stuffed animals. I'll pencil in not picking up the stuffed animals for five-ish, okay?")
"Don't tell me you can't do what I'm telling you to do because you have to do something your mom told you to do that you're not doing. You had your chance to do what your mother said, and you played with your cars instead. Now you're going to do what I said."
"That's not fair!" (note, this is the default answer, whenever a child can't think of a clever retort, then your request is de facto unfair.)

Eventually, he got on board and actually cleaned quite well. We bribed him by telling him if he finished without fussing, we'd allow him to vacuum. He loves to vacuum. Probably because we haven't made it a chore of his. I think I might keep it that way for a while.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"The Captain" retires

For as long as I've watched hockey, there's been one captain of the Detroit Red Wings. One man who wore the C on his jersey. One leader of them all.

Steve Yzerman is arguably the best captain of all time in the NHL. He certainly was captain the longest. And he did it the way I think most people like to see it. He led by example. He didn't complain about his coaches, or practice, or the demands of the game, or of wanting more money to play a game. He played because that was who he was - a hockey player. He gave his all to the sport, and quit not because he was tired of playing, not because nobody would sign him, he quit because he felt like he could no longer be his best.

Steve Yzerman retired over the holiday weekend. Quietly, without much fanfare.

And with him, he takes a bit of the old school hockey mentality with him. He leaves a void in the sport that will take years to fill, and even then, only partially.

I had the good fortune to see Steve Yzerman play on two occasions, once at Joe Louis Arena, and once in San Jose. The Red Wings were at their best when I saw them; led by Scotty Bowman on the bench, and The Captain on the ice. Would that everyone would get to enjoy leadership like that.

But Mitch Albom does a much better job putting the thoughts to paper. Read his article on Yzerman here.

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Every bag of chips
has one potato chip that's
shaped like Ohio.

OK, now it's your turn.

North Korea Launches Missiles

Despite repeated warnings not to, the Chonger decided yesterday to launch six missiles, including one Taepodong-2 missile, which reportedly failed less than a minute after launch. According to the article linked above, there was a seventh launch as well.

From the article:

The president named North Korea, along with Iran and Iraq, in his "axis of evil," yet has focused most of his attention on the later (sic) two nations even though Pyongyang claims it already has nuclear weapons.

"The American officials have said that if the North Koreans proceed with a test, there are going to be consequences," said Robert Einhorn, former assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation in the Clinton administration and chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea from
1996 to 2000. "If there aren't consequenses, the Bush administration is going to look like a paper tiger."

I don't necessarily agree with that synopsis in whole, but this is something that has been coming for a while. The administration has certainly spent the lion's share of its attention with two nations who did not have nuclear capability and basically ignored North Korea, which, as I've mentioned before, is a nation that suffered 2 MILLION fewer in population between 1994 and 2004, whose principal domestic products are opium, heroin, and counterfeit cigarettes, who admittedly has nuclear weapons, has threatened to use them, who is responsible for the submarine incident, the crab war, the poplar tree, the bombings of ROK ambassadors, kidnapping of japanese women, etc. This is a country where it's against the law to be out of a job, but there's not enough work for everyone; the average prisoner's daily food ration is about 20 kernels of corn and maybe some rice; a country who has followed none of the agreements it has made in return for light water reactors, food aid, medical aid, etc.

This is a country that needed a regime change more than any other. Yet we invaded Iraq before we finished the hunt for Bin Laden, and now we're stuck in both, despite the repeated statements to the effect of we've turned a corner, we're nearing the end, they're in their last throes, etc. We don't really have the resources to deal with North Korea, and any sanctions we proffer are going to be rather minimal compared to what we invaded Iraq over. This was a calculated move by the DPRK, who was looking for more than bargaining leverage, they wanted to stick it to the U.S..

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth of July, Everyone!

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Rights of the People to alter of abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariable the same Object envinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world....

Such ends the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence. Click here to read the entirety. It's Independence day; you owe your country at least that much.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The little boy told me

I stole the cookie from the cookie jar.

Sunday, July 02, 2006