Friday, February 29, 2008

February 2008 Texas Bar Exam

If my calculations are correct, the February 2008 Bar Exam is over. Congratulations on finishing; enjoy your nap today.

So, what did y'all think? Good? Bad? Strong points? Weak points? Surprises?

Let us know.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Forest for the Trees

Barack Obama was asked on Thursday if he would redeploy troops to Iraq after withdrawing, if Al Qaeda established a base there. Obama answered that if Al-Qaeda was establishing an Al-Qaeda base, then yes.

President Bush used this opportunity to criticize the candidate, saying that that's what we've been doing in Iraq for the past four years - fighting to "[deny] Al-Qaeda a safe haven anywhere." This is not dissimilar to the comments John McCain said yesterday, whose campaign, according to the article linked above, issued a statement that Obama's plan would "embolden Al-Qaeda and weaken our security."

Obama's counterpoint, which is accurate, is that there was no Al-Qaeda presence in Iraq before the invasion. This is what the administration likes to gloss over, rewriting history, as it were. The President, and Senator McCain, would have us believe that the invasion of Iraq was to rid the nation of terrorists. This is simply untrue. We did not invade to rid the country of terrorists. One can speculate at the underlying motivation for overthrowing a country that was no immediate threat to us, such as the idea of opening up the vast oil reserves to American speculators, or to create a long-lasting security arrangement with a government selected by us, to ensure that we have a place from which to attack other nations in the region, or that they really did have WMDs and were creating them and just managed to hide them all in AMC Pacers crossing the border into Syria before our inspectors could get to the plants to show they existed, or whatever you want to believe. The fact is, we invaded for reasons that were shown to be untrue, and then we had to resort to fallback positions to continue the justification. After a while, we got to a point where it appears the administration thought enough water had passed under the bridge to quietly change the rationale for the invasion, and that has now become the talking point. That talking point is the Al-Qaeda angle.

This is not to say that there is not merit in the argument that Al-Qaeda is now a threat in the area. We created that beast by removing the stability of the government in place at a time when we were unprepared to finish what we'd started, thinking that the dream of Democracy would galvanize an entire nation of people unfamiliar with the concept to embrace it and eschew the lives they were familiar with. They were unprepared for our version of freedom, and we were unprepared for a follow-up to the invasion itself. That, combined with hundreds of years of hostility among the different ethnic groups and some mistrust of the liberators of the nation have created a perfect situation for Al-Qaeda to get roots, buddying up with tribal lords, etc. Our current solution of throwing money and weapons at people in exchange for their promise to not shoot us will work for a while, until the money dries up or someone comes along with a better deal. Because of all this, we are stuck.

Our military is the thumb in the dike. There's no saying how long the little Dutch Boy can hold his hand there, though, as eventually, he's going to need a break. The question is, what's going to happen when that time comes? This is an occupation unlike previous occupations. We are not there protecting against an external threat. We are staying to protect a threat we invited in, which is unfortunate, and virtually unwinnable for us. The government is not getting along, passing legislation, the purpose of the Surge, which Bush Apologists tritely point to as "working." The longer we stay, the greater the chance of hostility towards us growing, resulting in exactly the opposite of what we'd ostensibly intended with our invasion.

There are a few questions in Iraq that are left to be answered:
1. What is victory, and is it realistically achievable?
2. How many Americans and Iraqis have to die or have their lives destroyed before this is over?
3. Who is going to be the last American to die for this farce?
4. How much of the blame for "failure" is going to be shouldered on the one who actually takes our troops out of Iraq if/when the nation does fall apart?
5. When will President Bush get to play the "I told you so" card, saying we had to stay because "this" was bound to happen, even though it was bound to happen regardless of timing?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One thing I notice

And I'm not the first to notice this, is that there seems to be a lot of blogs out there written by lawyers. Not just blogs, but novels, op-eds, magazine articles, etc. as well. There's got to be a reason for this.

What I remember reading once (by another lawyer), is that lawyers spend so much of their billable hours answering discoveries, writing briefs and motions and petitions and responses and counterpetitions and protective orders and the like, that they create a logjam of creative thought that needs an outlet.

Lawyers are writers by necessity. Our jobs demand it. But there is more to us than being a lawyer. And I think that we reach a point where the outlet that feels most natural is the one most similar to what we spend so much time doing at work.

Maybe someday I will write the Great American Novel. I have ideas in my head, but neither time nor patience to crank them out. Instead, I will refer my readers once again to a terrific novel written by a fellow alum.

Support Public Education

I've argued in the past that one of the problems with No Child Left Behind is that only a few of the children in public schools would get to benefit from going to a private school with the vouchers, and the private schools get to choose whom to take, meaning that those who could potentially benefit the most from "better" educators would still be left behind. I also argued to the short-sightedness of the voucher program, that is, it only speaks to the educators, and not the environment from which the students came, their home life.

It turns out, perhaps these two issues should have been, or at the very least, need to be, addressed. This is because the School Voucher Program in Wisconsin has resulted in no change in performance on test scores. That's right. The children who got the precious vouchers, and therefore the "better" education scored no higher than Les Miserables who were left behind. I first read about this at Americans United. In other words, the program that takes millions of dollars from public schools that are "failing" students to allow a fraction of those students harmed to go to parochial/private schools results in no increased benefit for any of the students. Perhaps this money could be better used in the aggregate, rather than segregating the chosen few deemed worthy enough to deserve a chance to succeed in the eyes of the state and churches.

Monday, February 25, 2008

This is Probably Not the Sincerest Form of Flattery

One thing I love about politics is the maturity displayed by those who would lead us.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

And now for your moment of creative irony

Robert Gates announced that invading Iraq would not solve the terrorist problem.

Now, anyone who thought this through five years ago could have said this, particularly in the face of evidence showing no connection between 9-11 and Iraq, as conceded by the President, but then again, we invaded because Iraq had nuclear weapons they didn't have. But that's not what Gates was referring to.

No, instead, he meant that Turkey sending troops into Northern Iraq would not fix the terrorist problem. Our invasion went off without a hitch, so the terrorist problem is never going to be an issue again.


True Colors

So President Bush made headlines a short time ago by threatening to veto any legislation that would not grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that assisted the Government in conducting wiretaps against American people without warrants. The administration asserted that the law which had been in effect had to be renewed "as is" to allow America to be secure, and that not extending the law would weaken America.

What the law did was provide an end-around of FISA and the Fourth Amendment. For the uninitiated, the Fourth Amendment requires that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized (emphasis mine)." This requirement has extended to telephone conversations based upon (inter alia) Katz v. U.S., 389 U.S. 347 (1967) and Berger v. New York, 388 U.S. 41 (1967).

In the early 1970s, The Court issued its ruling in what is known as the Keith case. In this case, the defendants were a domestic dissident group. This means that their activities did not touch upon the foreign affairs powers of the President. They were nonetheless subjected to electronic surveillance. The Government wanted to use this surveillance in prosecuting the case, claiming that Probable Cause was not a one size fits all requirement, despite the plain language of the Fourth Amendment, and the President is vested with inherent powers to disregard the requirement (This was Nixon's argument, and is not unlike much of what President Bush has argued). It argued that the situation was "complex," and therefore a warrant would be too burdensome. The Court, however, said that they dealt with Complex issues all the time, and therefore this would not suffice as an excuse to violate the Fourth Amendment. However, the Court did concede that Probable Cause may not be the proper standard in all situations (which sounds a lot like Judicial Activism, to me), and that Congress should consider different standards (which sounds an awful lot like an advisory opinion to me, which is another Court no-no). Congress did, and gave us FISA.

Real quickly, FISA is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and it allows the collection of information before securing a warrant, provided a warrant is secured within 3 days after surveillance begins. It also puts the standard of review for the Court at little more than a rubber stamp. The Court may not rule on sufficiency of the request, rather, it can only rule on whether the request was filled out properly. In other words, the courts essentially cannot refuse a FISA warrant if the agent requesting the Warrant crossed the "t"s and dotted the "i"s.

Somehow, this was insufficient for the President, who saw fit under his authority as President to order surveillance of Americans without securing a warrant, and now wants to protect those who assisted him in violating the civil rights of untold numbers of Americans. But, he's changed his tune. Now, we're no longer as worried about weakening America (because really, we're no weaker), no, now we need to stop the bloodsucking lawyers: "When Congress reconvenes on Monday, members of the House have a choice to make: They can empower the trial bar, or they can empower the intelligence community.... They can help class-action trial lawyers sue for billions of dollars, or they can help our intelligence officials protect millions of lives."

This is too bold. The President is essentially saying "don't make people answer for their transgressions - grant them ex-post facto protections," (while the Constitution forbids the passage of ex-post facto laws, the Court has ruled on more than one occasion that this only applies to making illegal what was once legal, and not vice-versa). He conveniently ignores that any damages paid would be to compensate for injury caused by real or potential harm to individuals' civil liberties by the telecommunications firms' assistance in the government's violation of the 4th Amendment and ignores the all-too-real situation that the law he seeks to have re-enacted is unnecessary. He does so in a most disingenuous fashion, and I find that more offensive than his original argument that Congress was making America weaker.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Odd Book Titles

In one of my trivia books, I came across a list of past winners of the odd book title contest, which I'd not heard of until that moment. It immediately struck my fancy, as I like finding humor in places where one would not necessarily expect to find humor. It turns out, this contest was started in 1978 by The Bookseller (first winner of the Diagram Prize - Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice), where you can vote on which title you think is oddest of this year's bunch.

This year's list can be found here. I personally like "Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues," but there are plenty of good ones out there.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I missed it

The Clinton-Obama debate was on tonight. I don't have cable, so I was unable to watch it on television, and I turned on my computer too late in the evening to catch it, though I did read the recaps on

It sounds as though it was mostly civil, with a couple barbs traded. It also sounds like both candidates were being cautious not to offend any demographics.

Hillary apparently tried to bring in Obama's alleged plagiarism (off of a man who has endorsed Obama, despite said alleged plagiarism), which brought a chorus of boos, which is a good thing. I don't much care for Clinton, and I think Austin, Texas, and probably most of America are tired of negative campaigning. Perhaps the issue would have more resonance if it was an issue for the person from whom the Obama campaign allegedly took the statements, or if saying things that have already been said hasn't been done for decades in politics. But it's not. And trying to make an issue of it in the wake of a public that doesn't want to hear about it just hurts her campaign.

I'm not convinced I like Obama, but I'm pretty sure I like him better than Hillary. Either way, I don't care for a lot of their platforms. The only problem is, there's not really anybody on either party that I particularly care for. And I don't relish the idea of voting third party again, though if that's what I have to do to keep the bile from coming up and the buyer's remorse from hitting too hard, then that's what I'll do - tell the major parties that I'm not interested in what they're selling, and that there's something else out there that is more in tune with what I support.

Pandering 101

I am a supporter of Church-State Separation. You may have been able to glean my leanings by reading the subtle nuances in my posts that suggest this. I do not subscribe to the notion that, just because many (if not most) of the Founders of America were Christian, that we are, by devise, a Christian Nation. I have read many of Jefferson and Madison's writings, and they were both very careful about what they said. Both advocated for a separation of the two, to keep the State from interfering with religion, and vice-versa. Jefferson spoke of the beliefs of Christians, Jews, and Mohammedans in America - not solely Christians. Even George Washington wrote of America as a nation where individuals could believe as they wished, and worship as they wished. Yet, I somewhat understand the need for some people to equate America with Christianity. I mean, I don't completely get it. I don't see how a land that is equal for all should be more equal for those who have gone through Confirmation, but perhaps that comes from a weakness in those peoples' own faith...

At any rate, when it comes to politicking with religion, it's nice to see a refreshing approach to campaigning. And there's a new one out there. Paul Abramson is the founder of He has long supported Creationism over Evolution. I'm not opposed to Creationism as a religious belief, but inasmuch as I support separation of church and state because I don't believe that Hindus or Buddhists, et al. should have to learn one religious theory over any other, think it should be taught at religious institutions, and if a parent wants their child to learn only that theory, then that parent should send their child to a religious institution for his or her instruction, but I digress. Mr. Abramson has decided he's going to run for Congress. I admire that. I like it when people aspire to serve their nation. But I disagree with his platform: If elected, he would push the Public Expression of Religion Act, making public display of crosses, menorahs, nativities, etc. on public property injunction-proof. Additionally, he would introduce a bill mandating "display of the 10 Commandments in every federal courthouse in the United States and its territories."

His premise for this proposition is that America is supposed to have freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. I completely agree with his premise, but I think his proposed application is flawed. By mandating display of one religious doctrine over all religious doctrines rooted in this nation, then we are in effect favoring one religion over another at the best, and coercing those who believe differently into changing their beliefs at the worst. Imagine if you as a Christian were to walk into a Courthouse and the judge forced you to swear in on a Q'uran, and the sight greeting you upon entry was a giant tapestry of the Sharia. Would you feel as though you were going to get a fair judgment from the judge in your case? What if you knew that the State mandated this not only in the courthouse you visited, but in all courthouses? In all Government buildings? Would you feel free to worship as you choose?

By keeping religion free from government intrusion, we do not preclude Americans from believing in God, or in Christ or the Trinity. We instead make this country comfortable for those of all faiths to practice as they see fit.

If I were living in Abramson's district, I would vote for Brad Ellsworth, not because I don't believe in God, but because I believe my faith does not need our government's endorsement to exist.

Home Sick

The Boy had to stay home sick today - he's got another fever. I think he's going to be fine, but he's definitely got some bug, as he has no appetite and is feeling weak.

This means that I have to miss work. I don't particularly care for missing work - I might not love my job, but I have a responsibility to show up and do it, so I feel bad about missing, though I'm glad that I can take off to care for the children in their time of need.

After I dropped off the other kids at school and daycare, I realized just how tired I was, as well. I might take a nap today.

I've also been a bit negligent on posting, and really haven't posted anything news-related for a while. Perhaps after I take a nap, I'll get online and drudge up some story that's been running the circuit, like McCain's alleged flip-flop on tax cuts...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Worn Out

I'm a little tired. I've been trying to do a good job of getting to the gym 3-4 times a week. Last week I didn't quite make it; I only went on Sunday. But this week, I have gone 3 straight days, and should be able to make it on Wednesday with little trouble, and perhaps on Thursday, if the kids behave, I can get them into the pool again.

While I was changing after my workout (33 minutes of cardio, 30 minutes on weights - lower body today, and 15 minutes in the sauna), I was listening to CNN. There were two opinionated pundits on there discussing the democratic campaign. One was hypothesizing that more people were supporting Obama than Clinton because they viewed Obama's campaign as his running for the People, while they viewed Clinton's campaign as her running for herself. This set off the other pundit, who must be a Clinton supporter. He decried her daring to suggest that Clinton was running for president just for herself. As the first pundit tried to correct him, pointing out that she said it seemed as though the perception to the public was what she was referring to, pundit number two just kept interrupting and talking louder and louder to make sure his objection to her opinion that Clinton was just in it for Clinton was heard above and beyond the truth.

Pundit number two wasn't Hillary. But his antics are exactly what I see coming out of the Clinton campaign, and it's what I see coming out of the White House for another four years if Hillary is elected.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Friday

So, I'm still unhappy with my job. I know a lot of it is phone anxiety, and another part is the sense that I'm kind of being hung out there. We're told "do this lawyer task," and then given no guidance, and then chewed out if we do it wrong, even though there's not really anyone to answer our questions. But perhaps the biggest thing is that it's temporary work, so I don't know when I'm going to be out of work, and it's temporary work of the kind I don't want to do for the long haul. That all combines to some pretty hefty work stress. On the bright side, I slept almost 4 hours last night.

This Friday, things went ok at work, for the most part. We all got chewed out for doing something wrong, but it wasn't a big chewing out. The problems started after work. I got to my car at the top of the garage, unlocked the doors, got in, and got nothing when I turned the key. I tried again - nothing. Fortunately a guy was walking by, and I asked him for a jump. He didn't want to stop, but since I had cables and it was raining, he probably didn't feel like he could just leave. The jump didn't work, though, and I didn't want to keep him too long. I called the wife and told her, and so she could get the kids and then come get me. In the meantime, I called our insurance company to try to set up a tow. As I mentioned, my car is at the top of the garage - ten floors up. The insurance company has several towers on their PO plan, but unfortunately, none of them had a vehicle low enough to get under the clearance of the crossbeams (6'10").

After I get off the phone, another guy stops and asks me if I need a jump. I told him I was waiting on my wife and we had a tow on the way, but he insisted on helping, to which I was quite thankful, particularly after the problems with trying to get a tow truck up there. We tried to jump it again, and nothing. We had absolutely no juice at all - no lights, no nothing, so we figured the battery must be completely dry, and we thought we might try to run to Goodyear and pick up a new one. We tried to get the battery off, but the positive connector was stripped, so we were stuck. This basically meant we had to rely on a tow. I decided to coast the car down the garage in neutral (manual steering and really sluggish brakes - that was a bit scary), until I got to the second floor. That way, when the tow got there, they wouldn't have to go as far. This was fine, except the clearance was still the same. So we call and unhold the tow call, hoping they can find someone with a low enough clearance. They don't, so the insurance company (USAA ROCKS!) called the towing company that tows away the vehicles at the garage's request, only to find out that they wouldn't take my insurance company's PO, and wanted $150 in case to tow it to our garage. Well, I don't make it a habit to carry that much cash, so we decided to call and ask how much it would be to tow it from the garage to the parking lot on the street right next door. $60 - cash. We said no thanks. By this time, the wife and kids were here, and the kids were being placated with Cheetohs. This was good, inasmuch as I was a little stressed after the week I'd had - it was a "what else can go wrong?" sort of week. Anyway, we decide to roll the car out of the garage on our own, thinking the wife could steer while I push the car up the mini hill from the garage to the lot (it's on the same block, so we're talking maybe 40 feet total). This turned out to be a little more difficult than I thought, but I probably could have done it alone. Fortunately, another nice guy came and helped me push it onto the parking lot and out of the street. No blocking traffic - this was good. The guy didn't even complain when he slipped and banged his knee on the metal grate.

So then we get a call from the insurance towing agency (who we'd called to inform that we would have the car where they could hook it up to the tower) - the guy is going to be there in about 30-45 minutes. We don't really want to keep the kids sitting still for that long, and it's about 8 pm and they've not had dinner yet, so we load them up in the minivan and drive to McDonald's to get some quality nutritious meals. We get back to the parking lot just in time to have the tow guy call me and say he's there. I walk out to the street to show him where we are, and he gets us loaded up and towed out quickly and easily. It was a nice end to a rough evening at the end of a really rough week.

The garage called me the next day to tell me the car started up just fine when they came in, and they wanted to know why I brought it in. Of course. Well, I got a diagnostic done, changed the oil, and fixed the motor on the driver's side window so it works again, so it turned out to be a worthwhile tow anyway, but really. 2 hours stuck in a garage downtown trying to figure out how to get a car where a tow truck can reach it, and it starts right up the next morning?

Apparently there is a problem with the anti-theft systems shorting out the electrical systems with Chevys, and that may be what happened to my car, so if the theft system light comes on again, we'll just have them disable it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Eve of Destruction

I once read that Barry McGuire was credited with the first protest song, with Eve of Destruction. I was listening to some oldies this morning, and came across this song, and decided to give it a listen, since it's been a bit of a while since I'd last heard it.

As I listened to it, thinking back about 1965 and what was going on in the world at that time, I kept drawing parallels in my mind to today (which many people have done before me; I don't claim to be breaking new ground here). But one that really hit me was a line that I've missed for years in the song. McGuire is singing about projecting hypocrisy, which resonated to me the invocation of the Bible by the Religious Right to condemn anything they disapprove of, and he sings the line "hate your next door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace." What a great line.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What I'm realizing

I have not been sleeping well. I'm pretty sure I've been having anxiety attacks all week long. Wednesday morning, I woke up at 1:30, and then approximately every half hour after, thinking that I'd overslept. The same thing happened on Thursday morning. Last night wasn't as bad, as I didn't wake up until about 3. I've been nauseated and having trouble concentrating, particularly at work.

I think work is the problem. Well, in a manner of speaking. You see, I like a lot of what I do. But one thing I have realized over the years is that I don't like to talk to people I don't know (professional individuals in a polite environment I can handle just fine), and I don't like talking to rude people, particularly on the phone. Unfortunately, my job involves a lot of both of these. I've been doing this work for five months now, and it hasn't gotten any easier. Interestingly, this was supposed to start out as an 8-10 week project, and they've discussed moving us on to other projects after this one is finished. I think this is where I'm having my difficulty. I'm doing a job that I took because I needed the income, and now I'm staying there because I don't think I can afford to quit.

I started looking today, but I'm not sure that the job I want is out there. I would love a position as a legal researcher, or a legal historian. Perhaps tax work is something I could do, that's been of interest to me in the past. But mass tort work, though I thought I'd like it, really is not turning out to be what I wanted. I don't know how much longer I can do the anxiety attacks. Perhaps if I didn't have to talk to the clients (this should be a laugher for all lawyers out there, because it's virtually impossible to practice law without talking to clients), or if the clients had their wits about them, I'd be ok. As it is, I've got to press on with trying to get up the nerve to call someone who I know is going to yell at me and swear at me and then call my supervisor and complain about how unprofessional I was in speaking with them, and then get a talking to because of that that, even though I've not been unprofessional.

I need a vacation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Herman's Hermits-I'm Henry the VIII I, ami

It's been a bad day. I need to make others suffer.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


The other day at work, we were discussing breakfasts. I mentioned that I knew a guy who at what I thought was a strange breakfast - four slices of bacon, and a small bowl of gizzard and rice. Other people at work chimed in that they were rather fond of gizzard, and I made note of my father's eating it every thanksgiving and tricking my sister and me into trying it regularly. My coworkers were raving about how good it was, to which I responded "No way! Gizzard is foul!"

And I immediately got it. What's even funnier is that everyone else got it a couple seconds later.


So the Boy has an ear infection and strep throat. He should be over the contagious stage at this point, but it's still not fun for him. He's never been one to get sick much, and it really knocked him for a loop to have to miss the better part of two days of school. He's pretty much back to his cantankerous self though, which is good, as we're going to be lunching with Photog and his wife. We always enjoy spending our second Sunday with them, as it's chock full of good conversation and endless entertainment from the young'uns. Today we'll be eating at Freebird's, a restaurant that I've never tried, but what sounds to be an excellent choice. The Princess has her pigtails out in full force, and the Apple has been asking continuously when we'll be going to see the Photogs.

I'm excited.

Friday, February 08, 2008

One Bad Day

So The Boy is sick. He went home early yesterday with a fever which hadn't dissipated by this morning, when it was accompanied by a sore throat, which I figured was caused by his snoring (he was congested last night). So I had to stay home. Fun, when you're an hourly employee. Anyway, we're at home, he's laying in my bed watching a movie while I'm downstairs. We go out and get some soup and tylenol to get him something to eat and something to keep his temperature down. I took his temp, and he complained when I took the thermometer out of his ear. I didn't pay much attention to this until later in the day, when he complained again. I looked at the clock - 3:30. The doctor's office closes at five. At least I can call and ask to see if there's an appointment, and if not, at least get some nurse's advice, since it could be an ear infection, and The Boy describes the pain as "like an ear infection." I call up and explain the situation, they transfer me to a nurse's VM (I'm used to this and OK with it, the doctors at the kids' clinic are really good). I get a call back within 5 minutes, right as I'm standing up to start cooking the stew meat for the Goulash (the Boy was going to have soup again, due to his sore throat). The doctor is going to see The Boy, and they have an appt. time at 4:10. We get changed real quick and comb The Boy's hair, and get to the clinic at about 5 til 4. The nurse calls us in within about 2 minutes, which is odd, because I'm used to waiting at least 20 minutes after the appointment time. The doctor comes in after a few minutes, checks him out, asks about fever, nausea, etc., and looks in the ear - and finds earwax. He cleans that out, and says "yep, it looks like a nasty ear infection." Joy.
Then he looks in The Boy's throat and sees it's pretty swollen and red. He asks if the Boy had a sore throat, and we said yes, since this morning. He tells us he's going to have the nurse do a swab to check to see if The Boy might have strep as well. Of course he has strep as well. Poor kid. But we have him on antibiotics now.

Of course, since we were at the doctor's, we were unable to cook dinner, and we had nothing else defrosted, so I figure I'll treat the kids by ordering Pizza at Domino's. Every time I order from Domino's, I kind of cringe, because back in 2004 on Christmas eve, I ordered a pizza and it never arrived. Nevertheless, I figure it's time for a change from Little Caesar's, though I do like me some PizzaPizza. I attempt to order online, though there apparently is a problem, in that the online coupon is not accepted at the store that delivers to my address, which I don't understand at all. It's a centralized system. Accept the freaking coupon. Then, the order doesn't show the price for the pizzas, so the site won't let me complete my order. I'm getting a little frustrated, but, I've called for delivery before, I'll just call again. I call them up, and get a girl who doesn't know about the coupons online but offers another deal instead. Rather than argue, I figure, OK, just take the order and get it over and done with. There. It'll be there in 45 minutes to an hour. Great, that's just after the Wife will be home, as she got out of work late.

Wife gets here; the pizza doesn't. I call after an hour, and am told the guy "just left," and they "had to make sure it was completely cooked." 20 minutes later, no pizza. I call again, and the store hangs up on me. I call again, and ask (in a very upset way because of what's gone on so far) to speak to a manager and then ask where my damn pizza is. I'm put on hold and when the girl gets back asks me what my number is. I tell her, and she says it's already been delivered. I let her know that I never received my pizza. I'm put on hold again. Now a guy picks up and asks for my information. I tell him and he says that I'm at the wrong address. Bear in mind, I've lived where I live now for 3 years and have had pizzas delivered to where I now live from this Domino's, yet they delivered my pizza to my old address, without confirming my address, and then without checking the ID of the person who signed the bill to make sure that person was me. I yell at the guy about this (admittedly, not the best way to handle it), and his response to me is to "calm down." I asked for the regional manager's name and number and got that, of course, his voicemail was full and there was no option to transfer to another line, so I was hung up on there, too. Ultimately, the guy did offer to replace my pizzas for free, but after being an hour and a half late the first time, I didn't think I'd be awake in time to get the seond one, so the wife went and got us little Caesar's instead. And it arrived about 2 minutes after I finished my complaint to That's timely.

So anyway, I'm grumpy and I took it out on a guy that didn't screw up because he had to take the crap for the ones who did screw up. Of course, none of the people who did screw up are going to have to answer for their mistakes, despite exposing their store and their chain to civil liability, and that's even more unfortunate than being the guy getting yelled at for someone else's mistakes.

I still hate CSI Miami

So this past Monday, my wife has CBS on. I'm ok with this, because I'm a fan of the Big Bang Theory and 2 1/2 Men - while not classics of American Comedy, they are two of the best Sitcoms out there right now. Unfortunately, after those shows end, CSI Miami comes on. CSI Miami is crap with fancy cars. The show is marked by painful one-liners delivered by stiff actors complete with choppy editing and slick (useless) special effects.

This past week, someone was shot (of course). Being that it was Miami, the person was shot in the middle of the day in a busy park or beach or something, and the question is, "who did it?" Fortunately, we have the best in the business at work here. I came in a little late, but I did see a lot of the really annoying crap. I will recap.

First, Adam Rodriguez's character is standing behind a bush, and announces that this is where the bullet came from, because he can see the bullet hole in one of the leaves. Yes. He is that freaking awesome, that he can find the ONE LEAF that has a bullet hole in it, and he does this by crouching. This guy is amazing. He didn't just search around methodically looking for clues, he walked to a spot, crouched, and saw the bullet hole. We then were treated to a stop-action rewind of the bullet being shot and going through the leaf.

But his magic doesn't stop there. Adam Rodriguez also picks up another leaf from the ground. In his clairvoyance, he actually knows how to pick up THE ONLY LEAF that the guy hiding behind the bush dripped sweat on. Never mind that it's been at least a day since the leaf fell and it's been windy, and there apparently has been no ground crew to sweep up the leaves that have fallen, the fact that he can reach down and pick up one leaf out of many and have that leaf be THE ONE that has the guy's DNA on it is nothing less than miraculous. Of course, because the DNA is old and on a plant, it's nearly impossible to extract the DNA - but wait! Eva LaRue has a fancy new machine that will destroy everything from the leaf EXCEPT the DNA. How fortunate! How timely! And how expensive would that have been for a police department to get? Would that be budgeted before, I don't know, hiring more cops? I think so! It's slicker, and allows for more useless special effects. My question, though, involves how it destroys everything but the DNA. First off - I've stood in the sun - I live in Texas, after all, and I don't regularly drip sweat in the first place. But even if I did, and even if that drip landed square on a leaf that didn't blow away, and EVEN IF the cop picked that leaf to test, wouldn't the leaf have its own DNA that would screw up the test? I'm no biologist, but I understood every living thing had DNA? But I digress.

Turns out the guy that was behind the bush didn't do it. Curses!

So they have to go back to the crime scene. Here, they do some stop motion recreation of the scene, with the victim being shot and stopped as he starts to fall. Adam Rodriguez and Emily Procter then start deducing. And they deduce the hell out of this! First, they determine that the shot came from (I think they said) about 150 yards. Then they look and see a possible spot for the shooter to shoot from. But they'd already checked that and saw no GSR (gunshot residue). So Emily Procter then figures out how fast the wind was blowing that day at that time by guessing (seriously), and also remembers which direction the wind was coming from, even though she was not there when the shot was fired, and THEN is able to calculate how much the bullet (actually drawing the curve in the air, with actual dotted lines for us to follow along) would have curved due to the wind so that the shooter would have hit the victim, all in her head. So they go to the boat, which fortunately had its deck closed for repairs, and found GSR, proving that the whole ship is full of idiots who didn't see a guy carrying a 30.06 running around the deck. They also find some jelly-iodine that the hospitals use to treat burn victims (another special effect here). This leads them to the hospital, where their perpetrator has been recovering from burns (from a suicide pact because he and his girlfriend got too much debt - he shot the loan agent, because what else could he do? It wasn't their fault they signed the loans, after all), meaning that not only does the hospital have such lax care that they allowed him to leave without checking as to his whereabouts, but that even though he's too stupid to manage money or stay in college, is somehow equipped with sniper skills to know precisely how much to compensate for the wind to pull off a head shot from over 150 yards.

And I know people who live for this show, because of how well these people solve the problems.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Random trivia

After the 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston, the grave of a Canadian man who had died in Galveston was washed to sea and drifted to shore in Canada (I want to say Nova Scotia, but I can't recall which province).


Years have gone by since the allegations of waterboarding have come up. I remember the answers - no, not that I know of, we can't tell you because it's classified, etc. I remember the confirmation hearings, where Hayden refused to state whether he considered waterboarding to be torture. I remember the Bush apologists offering the excuses - that it didn't happen, that even if it did, who cares, that it's ok because it saved American lives (although killing abortionists theoretically would save american lives as well, so perhaps we should kill all MDs to keep them from becoming abortionists, in the national interest), or that it doesn't matter because it's not torture, though they wouldn't want it to happen to them.

Of course, yesterday, Hayden admitted that yes, we did waterboard (hence his refusal to answer the question during confirmation), but we only did it 3 times, and lo and behold! IT WORKED! We saved american lives. And we know it, because we still have Americans.

Today, to further justify the "odious practice" (as Representative John Conyers called it), General Mukasey clarified that when we did it, it was perfectly legal, though it "probably" isn't now. How convenient. I actually like Larry Cox's (of Amnesty International) answer, that this is the "gold standard of double standards."

I understand that this is all coming out now because this is an election year and the President is a lame duck, and to do so now exposes the crap to the public, while still guaranteeing him an impeachment-proof year for people to rattle and bitch and moan about how he gets away with it while nothing ever really comes of what we have treated as torture when other nations have done it, and what has gone on by our own nation "legally" with the tacit, if not explicit approval of the Commander in Chief of the Armed forces and the head of the CIA. If the buck stops here, as the President would have us believe, then when will he place himself in position to answer for the actions of those he commands? Or will we get more stonewalling until another opportune moment for another revelation?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Gone Fishin'

Kansas has a law on the books that allows the People to call for a grand jury if the state's prosecutors won't. It has rarely been used, though it has been used twice to bring grand juries together in the interest of charging Dr. George Tiller - a doctor who performs late-term abortions. The allegation is that Dr. Tiller performs abortions in violation of the narrow scope authorized by Kansas law.

Last year, there was a Supreme Court case, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, which turned out to create a very difficult burden for Class Action attorneys. In the past, one could allege an injury and then show the harm through discovery. Now, you have to be able to show some harm from the allegations in order to even bring the case to trial - this is a very difficult burden for Plaintiff's Lawyers, who often do not have access to the records and files needed to show the harm except through discovery, and with Whistleblower protection going out the window, the country has become very Big Business friendly in the matter of a very, very short time. But I digress. This type of protection could be useful in grand jury matters such as we see in Kansas with Dr. Tiller. The Doctor has a vested interest in protecting his patient's privacy, but the pro-life crowd seems to think those people are immaterial in their hunt for blood (perhaps literally, Dr. Tiller was once shot in both arms).

At any rate, the Judge in the case did grant the motion to quash until the court considers the issue. Small victories.

I don't quite get the visceral hatred that pro-life organizations get into with this issue (particularly when I have heard eyewitness accounts of picketers going into the clinic to get their own abortions only to return to the picket line afterwards). Rather than attack the individual, attack the law. Support an amendment overruling it. Don't go on fishing expeditions to headhunt and bully people into supporting your cause - that just hurts in the long run.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Maybe he's a closet Demorat?

President Bush proposed a new budget that would include over $400 BILLION this year in deficit spending and over $400 BILLION in the next fiscal year.

I'm no financial genius, but even I can figure out that deficit spending leads to recessions, and we've been deficit spending more than any administration since Johnson. I don't like the idea of this much pork going into a budget, and I REALLY don't like that in spite of all this proposed spending, the budget for Medicare and Medicaid would be cut. I'm not a big fan of entitlements, and would like to see some changes to Medicare and Medicaid to create more of an assisted pay program as opposed to a taxpayer pay program, but if you're so dedicated to spending, pony up.

I'm not surprised that the President would propose a budget so fat, particularly with money for Iraq, as it is one of the most visible signs of his legacy, but this administration's spending (notwithstanding last year's renaissance of fiscal conservatism) has really been unbelievable. 3 trillion dollars?! We're facing a recession as it is to make up for 7 years of deficit spending. Is the Executive Legacy so important that we should spend our children's money to try to keep the Dow where it is for 11 more months?

Read the article linked above - several people don't understand the President's fuzzy math. More importantly, at one point, the President appeared to say so much as he's creating a mess for the next administration to clean up - "[the] 2009 budget proposes to boost near-term economic growth, restrain spending, and reform entitlements, leading to a balanced budget by 2012 and a more fiscally prudent path for the long term." These are not the words of a "buck stops here" President. And they certainly don't sound like a small government Republican's words, either.

Bobby Knight Resigns

I'm a fan of Bobby Knight. I never cared much for his antics, but I respected the heck out of him as a coach. He expected his players to go to class, and to learn. He expected them to work hard, and they did. And while all of this was going on, Bobby won. He won a lot. He won more than any other Division 1 coach has ever won. He was the last coach to go undefeated, and was one of the good ones. And now he's quitting.

NCAA basketball is worse without him.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Right up there with the best of them

One of my favorite Super Bowls ever. Wow. Nail biter, all the way to the end.

Giants have now won both of my favorite Super Bowls (42 and 25). Ironically, I rooted for them in both games, but I would never refer to myself as a Giants fan.

Plaxico Burress (Michigan State Spartan) caught the game winning touchdown with 35 seconds remaining, after Randy Moss caught the go ahead score for New England with about 2:30 to go. Amazing game. Can't say enough.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

More than just one letter

I once spoke with my father in law about Jefferson's meaning under the First Amendment regarding establishment of religion, and one of the things that came up was Jefferson's letter to the Baptists regarding the "wall of separation" between church and state. My father in law insisted that this letter was written solely to quell the Baptists' concerns and not to stand for Jefferson's opinion on religion an church altogether.

I'm only a few pages into Jefferson and Madison on Separation of Church and State (edited by Lenni Brenner), but I came upon some notes Jefferson had written regarding religion: "No man has the power to let another prescribe his faith. Faith is not faith with[ou]t believing. No man can conform his faith to the dictates of another." (Jefferson and Madison on Separation of Church an State p. 26).
In addition, the Virginia Constitution, written with much input by Jefferson who included in his drafts that "all persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution," had adopted the clause that "all Ministers of the Gospel of every Denomination be incapable of being elected Members of either House of Assembly or the Privy Council."

I'm only a few pages into this book, but I do clearly see the trend in Jefferson's writings towards keeping the clergy and the body politic separate. It's a shame that there are those on both the Religious Right and those opposed to the Religious Right who seek to simplify everything to one letter and injecting their opinions to the words written there.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I'm not completely surprised

At this Yahoo! Article - apparently, parenting classes don't help keep children from developing behavior problems.

I'm telling you, the Supernanny is full of crap, too.