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September 30, 2004

What color is your fear?

Anyone care to lay odds on the terror alert going up in the next few days?

Posted by Half-Cocked at 11:21 PM

Any Pixies fetishes out there?

I'm not talking about an odd sexual fascination with Dixie's cohort as they were run ragged by Jinxie. I mean, does anyone really feel an uncontrollable urge to roll Black Francis up in Saran Wrap or dress Joey Santiago up in an Eeyore costume? I'm talkin' to you, Julee. Does anybody really love Kim Deal's, and only Kim Deal's, toes? David Lovering? Anyone? I hear he has hiccups to die for. How about that hairy-backed guy on the cover of Come On, Pilgrim? Bear Pixies fans? Eyeballs on the Trompe Le Monde cover? Doesn't anyone get off on eyeballs?

I searched high and low for Pixies fetishes but I could only find people who are really, really into small flying women who help Wendy and the kids fly off to meet Peter Pan via the magic dust that falls from their bodies. Go figure.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:38 PM

Football Pix[ie]s

Welcome back, Players. Was that 5-0 weekend enough for you, or do you crave more Bookie Burnin' action? If you want more, we got it.

Where is My Mind?. I'll be hangin' out with Cecilia Ann, Velouria, Allison, Ana and Havalina at the Pixies show on Saturday. Is She Weird? or what?

And did I mention this is hard work? Hard work. Hard work. Not as hard as keeping together six-way talks with North Korea, but hard work, just the same. not Eight-Way Santa hard, but still.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:03 PM

September 29, 2004


I spent a little time tonight listening to Brian Wilson's long-lost masterpiece, Smile. It was originally intended for release in 1967, but then Wilson went nuts and the Beach Boys broke up.Some of the songs, like "Good Vibrations," were included on Smiley Smile, which was released back in the 60's but it was never complete until now. Wilson re-recorded the whole album as it was intended earlier this year and finally released it yesterday.

I can't say I was ever a big Beach Boys fan. I listened to some of my mom's old records when I was a kid, but by the time I was old enough to pick my own music, I had dismissed the Beach Boys music as useless sugary pop stuck in the 60's.

That was before I discovered Pet Sounds in college, which, while still sounding like the Beach Boys, was something much more. The familiar vocal harmonies were still there, of course, but Brian Wilson's innovative songwriting and instrumentation and production genius were now at the forefront.

Smile goes manys steps beyond Pet Sounds. The eclectic mix of synths, strings and horns on top of layered harmonies in tremendously detailed multi-part songs sounds like what many indie bands are trying to do today with varying levels of success.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:56 PM | Comments (2)

Sandwich Blogging Returns

I can't tell if the new Subway greezy Pork sandwich (dirty ashtray optional) is any good or not. I ate one today but all of Subway's sandwiches are beginning to taste like, well, Subway to me. If you blindfolded me had me taste a meatball and a veggie (both with all the fixins), I doubt I could tell the difference.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:49 PM

Washington Expos?

It's finally official, although if you've been paying attention you've known for months. The Montreal Expos are moving to D.C. This should have happened about 8 years ago, after the 1994 strike and subsequent cancelling of the World Series ruined the entire future of the Expos. Remember when the '94 Expos were running away with the National League East? When youngsters Larry Walker, Moises Alou and Marquis Grissom were the best outfield in baseball? The Expos were 74-40 when the strike happened and now, ten years later, they're finally headed somewhere where the Lincoln Saltdogs won't outdraw them.

What held it up anyway? Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles and a notorious litigator, was very protective of what he considered his home territory. Angelos got a sweetheart of a deal from MLB to keep his lawyers in his pants.

  • Baseball is willing to guarantee that the Orioles will earn a still-to-be-negotiated minimum in annual revenues. If their revenues fall below that figure, MLB would make up the difference.
  • Baseball also is willing to guarantee a minimum franchise value for the Orioles. So if Angelos attempts to sell the team and can't find a buyer willing to pay that amount, MLB also would make up that difference.

What else? MLB has been running the team for the past few years and losing money like a hemmorhaging craps player in doing it. In 1984 the Baltimore Colts loaded up in the middle of the night and became the Indianapolis Colts in 1985 and moving a football team from a city that loved its team is a lot tougher than moving a baseball team from a city that doesn't know it exists. Chalk another one up to MLB ineptitude. Another bit of evidence pointing to why the NFL is far and away the #1 pro sports league.

It's nice that baseball is finally back in Washington but my Yankee-hating ways can't ignore the better proposal I heard on the radio this summer. I believe it was Paul Splittorf, former Royals pitcher and current Big XII basketball announcer, who said the best place for the Expos was in northern New Jersey where they could cut into the Yankees' lucrative market and further even the playing field.

Too bad Paul isn't commissioner of baseball. With Bud Selig as the commissioner, it's a wonder this got done at all, let alone the right way.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 06:00 PM | Comments (1)

NetRoots to the extreme

The internet has taken on an unprecendented role in the 2004 election cycle. Conservative and liberal bloggers are constantly looking to expose the big lies of the opposition, Howard Dean panicked the Democratic party by raising millions on the internet and sites like Eschaton and Dailykos have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democratic candidates.

One of the candidates who has benefited from the Kos focus on fundraising is Jeff Seeman (OH-16). He's responded well to the attention from the blogosphere by posting a running diary on Dailykos, and now he's taking it a step further by giving Dailykos readers the job of being his campaign manager for a day.

A lot of politicians have jumped on the blogwagon in the past 9 months or so, but none have interacted with the people like Jeff Seeman has.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 02:45 PM

Been there, done that

The Lincoln Journal-Star is reporting that the government is appealing Judge Kopf's recent decision in D.Neb. overturning the late-term abortion ban to the 8th Circuit. Deja vu?

In 1998, Judge Kopf overturned an almost identical Nebraska law due to the lack of a health exception. The state of Nebraska then appealed to the 8th Cir. where Judge Kopf's decision was upheld. Carhart v. Stenberg, 192 F.3d 1142 (8th Cir. 1999). The state then appealed to the Supreme Court where the 8th Circuit's decision was affirmed in Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914 (2000).

Is there any reason to think it'll be any different this time? The justice department has already filed an appeal in the 9th Circuit after the N.D.Cal. decision that followed Stenberg v. Carhart. There's no mention in the article of an appeal being filed in the 2nd Circuit.

I suppose it's a good idea for the government to appeal in all three circuits since a favorable ruling in 1 out of 3 will increase the chance that one of the losing appeals will be granted cert by the Supreme Court, so they can hear the same case they heard in 2000.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 01:52 PM

What is 'hospital?'

According to Prof Evid. it's a regularly conducted business activity. I contend it's a building in which the regularly conducted business activity of medical care takes place.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:09 AM

September 28, 2004

He's just a downhome Nebraskan

I saw a Jeff Fortenberry TV spot for the first time last night. It ran during the KLKN-8 late news and featured Jeff in jeans and the closest thing he could find to a work-shirt being all rural awshucksy with the Richter family. He then handed off a football to a young boy just to make sure people knew he didn't hate football.

That contrasted starkly with the Fort I passed on Normal Blvd. last week driving his nice clean Volvo sedan. At first I wasn't sure it was him, but the expensive Southern televangelist haircut was a dead giveaway.

Fortenberry's in a congressional race in which his only chance of winning is to out farmer the moderate Democratic farmer, Matt Connealy. In the state fair debate earlier this month, whenever Connealy asked Fortenberry a question about his farm policies, Fortenberry always replied "see my pamphlet." Does he know what his farm policies are, or does he think appearing in a few TV ads with real farmers will make it so? Or does he just not want to own up to the fact his primary fundraisers, Hastert, Cheney, et al., are very anti-family farm?

Nebraska farmers are smarter than that, at least when it comes to their livelihoods. I wonder how this ad is playing in Tecumseh, Falls City, Wymore, Lewiston, Auburn, West Point, Scribner or Wayne?

Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:15 PM

September 27, 2004

On Shaving

I've been meaning to post something on this very important subject for some time but rapid advancements in lo-fi shaving technology have caused me to hold off, instead waiting for some development, some earth-shattering moment when I will feel comfortable making my feelings known. That moment has finally arrived.

The whole sordid tale of personal care product fetishism can be read in the extended entry.

For most of my life, save for a brief dalliance in junior high with a Norelco, I've been strictly a razor and cream/gel shaver. I've experimented with the shaving brush/cake soap method, but I've always stuck with the non-electric razor. The close shave I desire has never been attainable in any other way.

Over the last few years, the Gillette/Schick battles, reminiscent of Pepsi/Coke and Avis/Hertz, have had my head spinning. I've used the Gillette Sensor, with it's twin blades and lubricating strip. Gillette products have always seemed a bit better than the Schick alternative for some reason, and I've stayed fairly brand loyal. When Gillette rolled out the Mach 3, I quickly adopted it and found it gave me a shave of a closeness heretofore unknown.

Things changed in the last few months. Schick, usually the late comer in releasing new products, came out with the four-bladed Quattro. As I'd been taught over my years of shaving, more blades is better, so I went out and acquired a Quattro along with four replacement blades.

My initial reaction was favorable but I soon realized that perhaps the four-blade barrier was not meant to be broken. I was able to shave quicker, but I found that closeness was lacking. Upon inspecting the blade, I discovered that the blade array was held together by a couple of metal wires running vertically over the face, placing the blades just a little but further from the skin that is optimal. If four blades means a less close shave, I could do without them.

Gillette, perhaps coming to the same conclusion I did, eschewed the four-blade razor, instead coming out with a vibrating Mach 3. Besides blurring the line between electric and non-electric, it also seemed to be more suited to recreational shaving of other areas. I was not biting. Instead, I returned to my old standby, the Schick Injector. While it is a Schick product, it also provides the closest one-blade shave I've ever had.

Which brings me to the reason for this post, the Old Spice H.E. 4x4. It's a disposable, which I don't normally like, but I was out of Injector blades and decided to give it a try after noticing the absence of a closeness-reducing wire across the blade array. Also notable was the presence of four lube-zones. More lube on your razor is always highly desirable.

The experience of shaving with the 4x4 was like no shave I've ever had. Not only was it the quickest shave ever, it was also the closest, with almost no back-tracking or against-the-graining necessary to achive the closeness.

I can't wait to shave again tomorrow.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 11:38 PM | Comments (5)

Looking back over recent entries...

It appears I haven't mentioned anything about law school for a week. That's because it's boring.

Does anyone really want to hear about the five hours I spent today reviewing 6th Amendment right to counsel cases? How about rulemaking procedures in administrative agencies? I spent a couple of hours with Vermont Yankee v. Natural Resource Defense Council last night. Gripping material, I know. I just don't want to share all the fun. Con law is actually interesting but I'm not going to jinx it by talking out of class.

There is something to look forward to, I guess. It looks like we'll finally be done with Hearsay and Exceptions in about another week or so. Huzzah!

Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:54 PM

Ah, the sweet smell of blooming democracy

Afghanistan's presidential election is scheduled for two weeks from now and everything appears to be going swimmingly.

In another troubling development, 300 tribal leaders from President Karzai’s Pashtun ethnic group in the southeastern province of Khost announced on Friday that regional citizens should only vote for Karzai in the upcoming election.

In the statement, which was broadcast by the local radio station in Khost, the tribal leaders warned the locals that their houses would be burned down and they would also be prevented from attending wedding and funeral ceremonies if they did not vote for Karzai.


Meanwhile, unknown persons recently distributed leaflets in Afghanistan’s Arzegan province, which is a stronghold of allies of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, threatening to kill people who vote for any of the 18 presidential candidates.

I guess it's not really that different from having the state legislatures select the electors, right?

Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:19 PM

September 26, 2004

"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid."

Via Matthew Yglesias who admits he was being a "pretty shitty Jew" by visiting Washington National Cathedral during Yom Kippur, we learn that Darth Vader's head is among the grotesques adorning the West Towers of the Cathedral. I was filled with pride to further learn that we have a Nebraskan, Chris Rader of Kearney, to thank as he won third place in a children's sculpture design competition held when the West Towers were being completed.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 01:30 AM | Comments (1)

A Wedding in a Punk Rock Bookstore

Every time I think all our friends who are likely to get married have gotten married, we make new friends who are on the verge of matrimony. Tonight we went to the wedding of one of those recently met couples in Omaha in the coolest bookstore in Nebraska, the Antiquarium. It's a used bookstore open until midnight or so that caters to a very eclectic crowd. There's also an art gallery on the second floor, where the wedding actually took place, and a new and used record store in the basement. The reception was on the third floor.

I think more weddings should be held in in multi-use locations like this. Once the wedding descends into randomness and you're tired of talking to people you don't know all that well, usually soon after everyone is done eating, you can head downstairs and browse the shelves or flip through record bins.

Sarah bought a book tonight at some point and I replaced my long-lost Mousetrap "Supercool/Fubar" 7" with a new copy, replaced my previously sold vinyl copy of Slint's Spiderland, maybe my favorite album of all time, and picked up !!!'s Louden Up Now, also on vinyl. Maybe it's better that more weddings aren't held in the Antiquarium. I always hemmorhage cash when I walk into that place.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 12:30 AM | Comments (5)

Did you all bury your bookies?

If you're a smart Player you did. Saturday's college football picks were a very solid 5-0, bringing the season record to 9-4. Let's recap:

Posted by Half-Cocked at 12:11 AM

September 24, 2004

And just in case I haven't been shrill enough...

Have you heard about the indictments against 3 people and 8! corporations, including Sears, Bacardi, and Cracker Barrel (surprise, surprise) in a scheme to make illegal campaign contributions through Tom Delay's PAC?

If you only watch TV news you haven't since no TV news source has mentioned it despite it showing up in newspapers across the country. I'd think a scandal involving the guy who runs the House of Representatives would draw some attention from the news-readers. No Delay hasn't been indicted, but do the people under indictment fear , him enough to not snitch? Delay's actually had to campaign in his home district for the first time in 10 years so this can't help him one bit.

Oh, yeah, and congrats to the 45 new billionaires since last year.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:29 PM | Comments (2)

Juan Cole

For those of you not familiar with Juan Cole, he's a Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History at Michigan, and he has a blog at which he frequently posts well-informed comments on Iraq and the Middle East. If you saw the creepy, yet hilarious, press conference yesterday with Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister/puppet/former terrorist/CIA-asset, yesterday, you probably heard them both talking about how the situation in Iraq was a rose garden. Bush inexplicably referenced a poll that showed more Iraqis thought Iraq was on the right track than Americans thought America was on the right track. The Kerry campaign has already turned that into an ad.

Anyway, Juan Cole has a great post about just how rosy it is in Iraq if compared to the U.S.

What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.


What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?


What if, from time to time, the US Army besieged Virginia Beach, killing hundreds of armed members of the Christian Soldiers? What if entire platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and even pulverizing the Vietnam Memorial over on the Mall? What if the National Council of Churches had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers to converge on the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing it to get at a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?


What if veterans of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing were brought in to run the government on the theory that you need a tough guy in these times of crisis?

Lots more where that came from and don't forget to scroll up to the map that shows just how off-target Allawi's statement about how there are only problems in 3 out of 16 provinces actually is.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:02 PM

Week 3: Lesson Learned?

Last week wasn't so good, as we went 1-3, evening our season record at 4-4. I hope no players out there fell for the oldest trick in the book, the overhyped game. The Indiana vs. Kentucy pick was a test. Never, never, and I mean, NEVER, trust a handicapper who touts a game with lots of stars, steam, diamonds or purple horseshoes. Most likely, the handicapper who does that puts a ton of money down on the opposite side, or in certain situations, gives the pick out the other way to even more people. With that being said, let's dive into Week 3.

Thank you.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 08:21 PM

Blogging for Grades

The Poor Man has recently discovered he is assigned reading for a few sections of English 101 at USC-Aiken.

I'm sure this isn't the first time freshmen have been assigned to blog and read blogs as a way of working on composition and style, but it's the first time I've seen it. It also works very well as a way for each student to have easy access to every other student's writing, something that was a pain in the ass when I was a freshman. Of course, when I was a freshman, the computer was just a faraway twinkle in the eye of Charles Babbage as he worked on his Difference Engine. OK. I'm not quite that old, and in fact, a very primitive type of computer was being used to break Nazi U-Boat Enigma codes back then.

Perusing the student blogs is kind of fun for a little while. It's obvious that some are more into this aspect of the classwork than others. I also get the feeling that interacting on-line is a new experience for some. Looking at some of the entries on the Poor Man it's also apparent that a few students weren't introduced to sarcasm and irony by their high school teachers. That's all right, though. My high school English teachers were, for the most part, more interested in making sure we could underline subjects once and predicates twice, circle prepositions, put adverbs in parentheses, put squiggly lines under adjectives and get a chicken to crap on each gerund.

Seriously, though. This is a very cool way to encourage out-of-the-classroom interaction between students in a freshman writing course. Kudos to Dr. Lynne Rhodes.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 06:31 PM

September 23, 2004

Fabulous Fetish Friday

Now I'm not usually one to make fun of or otherwise disparage someone's personal appearance, but I may have found the fetish that explains the popularity of Ashlee Simpson.

Work-safe? Hell, yeah. Proboscilicious? You bet. Peep this. Women with Big Noses.

I've linked to the FAQ because it's the best part. Too many words, not enough noses? Maybe, but if you want to see some serious schnozzes, there's plenty there, both real and imagined.

I have a question.

You LIKE to see a girl's nose grow? Are you serious? Wouldn't a female Pinocchio be a better girlfriend for you?

A. Yes, yes, and why, do you happen to know one? Taking a small amount of sexual pleasure in having some power over something or someone is neither aberrant nor uncommon in normal sexual behavior, especially where fetishes are concerned. Dominance/submissive role-play and sadism/masochism are well documented and relatively common fetishes. While our fetish is not so extreme, the reaction of shock/horror that a woman has when she sees that her nose has grown is sexually stimulating in the same sort of way.

Big nose lovin' is a rather practical fetish, though.

Q. So do you go out of your way to look at women's noses in public places?

A. Well, no more so than someone who likes to look at women's breasts or buttocks (which are also sexually attractive to us). But we do have a distinct advantage in this area. We can keep staring at the woman's feature of interest without having to take our eyes off of her face (oh, come on, all men do it...)

Thanks for letting the cat out of the bag. Before long women will be wearing little nose bras.

Previous Featured Fetishes


Posted by Half-Cocked at 06:40 PM

September 22, 2004

That Ivan is one bad mutha

So how often does a hurricane trash the Gulf Coast, flood the middle Atlantic and then take a victory lap around the East Coast so that it winds up, a week later, aimed at Houston?

I wonder how the Rapture Index will react to this?

Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:07 PM | Comments (4)

NE ACLU & the World-Herald

Professor Volokh has some thoughts on the ACLU/World-Herald/10 Commandments controversy that I posted about here that are worth reading. His follow up post is worth reading even more.

My understanding -- which my colleague Norm Spaulding confirms -- is that (1) the ACLU can probably ask the client to agree up front that there are some things it won't do to represent him, but (2) if there was no such agreement, the ACLU may in fact be obligated to do all it can to protect the client. (I had meant to foreshadow that in the original post, but forgot to.) Public interest organizations often do agree with a client that the organization will do certain things (for instance, litigate the theory that is likely to set the precedent they like) and not do other things even if they're in the client's best interest (for instance, spend many hours getting the client a remedy that sets no helpful precedent).

Again, I think it was good to allow the plaintiff to proceed anonymously four years ago, but the usefulness of that ruling has likely run its course.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:44 PM

Rock and Roll Week

Only 10 more days until the Pixies make their triumphant return to Lincoln. I've heard nothing but good things about their tour so far and it's a good sign that they've been touring almost non-stop for 9 months now and Kim and Frank haven't killed each other. A new album is the next step.

Two days later, The Faint will be back in their hometown of Omaha for a really big shooow on the heels of the release of their new album Wet From Birth. I don't know if I'll make this one since it's on a Monday night. I've only heard a little bit from the new record but it sounds pretty good. There's also a lamely written article about them in the new Spin.

I haven't been listening to much new music at all lately. The Thrills, who will be opening for the Pixies in 10 days, have a new album out, Let's Bottle Bohemia, which I should probably hear before the show so I'm not totally bored waiting for The Pixies. I also havent' heard the new Kasey Chambers album, Wayward Angel, either. Maybe I'm afraid it won't be as good as her first two. I don't know.

The one I'm really looking forward to is the new Le Tigre album, This Island, which drops on October 19. A lot of noise has been made by the self-appointed indie rawk police about their jump to a major label after so many years of eschewing the mainstream a la Fugazi, but I say "more power to 'em."

Kathleen Hanna has been putting out records since 1991, first for Bikini Kill (I heart Riot Grrls), and then for Le Tigre. Why not grab a little of that cynical corporate cash now that there's a new emphasis on signing indie bands? Sure it won't last, but if the new single "TKO" is any indication, they should at least get some MTV play. Poppy synth-punk is the new garage band.

I remember seeing Bikini Kill at a little all-ages club that is now a bar for deadheads and Phish fans back in 94, not too long after Kathleen made her MTV debut as the cute dancing grrl in Sonic Youth's "Bull in the Heather" video. It was one of the most fun shows I've ever been to. Kathleen's energy was infectious even though no one else did cartwheels through the crowd like she did. I chatted with her a little bit after the show and she was very engaging. My crush on Ms. Hanna has subsided a little bit over the years, but her band's music just keeps getting better.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 02:17 PM | Comments (9)

In Local News

Because there are at least 10 people I can count on this hand from around here who visit this interweb log somewhat regularly, I'm going to start posting local news of a national interest. Sadly, most of this news will come from Nebraska's two pathetic newspapers, the Omaha Weird-Harold and the Lincoln Urinal-Star. Maybe the Kearney Hub and Grand Island Independent will squeak in on occasion, but unless someone sends me tips from the Scottsbluff Star-Herald or North Platte Telegraph (seriously, let the Telegraph go. It's so 1890's.), it'll be mostly urban state news.

Here's something skewed towards the law student.

Paper may print name in Commandments case, judge says

from the Omaha World-Herald.

A federal judge refused Tuesday to prohibit The World-Herald from publishing the name of a Plattsmouth man who has sued the city over a Ten Commandments monument.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf directed sharp questions at attorneys for both the ACLU and The World-Herald before deciding not to restrict the newspaper from printing the man's name.

I side with Judge Kopf here. This case has been in the federal courts for over four years and the odds on the plaintiff's name not being public are pretty long. Also, I've worked in a plaintiff's firm for awhile now, and it's quite difficult to get a judge to allow a plaintiff to file as a Doe now, no matter what.

Remember, Kopf isn't just some Roy Moore sympathizer. In the last four years he has struck down both a state and federal late-term abortion ban.

I cannot, however, fault the Nebraska ACLU and Amy Miller for advocating for their client to the fullest extent. Judge Kopf said as much. "Kopf applauded the ACLU for upholding its ethical duty to represent its client, even if that seemed to compromise its commitment to free expression."

The 1st Amendment is the thing here. The ACLU put themselves in a bad position by advocating against a newspaper printing something it has discovered in the course of its work. Of course, the Nebraska ACLU is just representing their client, not working off of some ACLU worksheet.

I'm sure Amy Miller knew she was in a losing position here, and perhaps reached a bit when she said that the World-Herald had publicly criticized their client before so they are "putting a target on his back" by naming him.

This case was filed almost four years ago. The people of Plattsmouth know who he is by now. Four years ago, when the suit was first filed, it was a good move by the court to keep the plaintiff anonymous as tempers in Plattsmouth were rising over the city's right to keep a giant stone statute in a public park. Now things have cooled off. The plaintiff might get a few threatening emails from freepers, but then again, who hasn't.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 12:38 AM | Comments (7)

September 21, 2004

Best Interests?

Last night I came across this post by Kevin Drum which linked to an Austin-American Stateman article showing the 100 most Democratic and Republican counties in the country in 2000. When I looked at the list I noticed an odd correspondence with another list I've seen frequently here in Nebraska, the number of Nebraska counties in the 100 poorest counties in the nation according to per capita personal income (pcpi).

I finally found the list of counties by pcpi that I could download into a spreadsheet today in Unfair Competition and it was where I'd been looking, The Bureau of Economic Analysis website. I just had to drill several levels down into a dataset I didn't see last night. I doubt I'd be able to find it again without a lot of trial and error.

My hypothesis as to Nebraska counties was fairly on target although, oddly enough, it didn't apply much to other states. In 2000, Nebraska had the dubious honor of having 4 of the 10 poorest counties in the country, Loup (#1), Arthur (#2), Blaine (#4), Grant (#5). Expand that list to 20 and we can bring in McPherson (#12), Sioux (#16), and Hooker (#20). Cross-referencing this with the 100 most Republican counties list shows that Arthur, Blaine, Grant and Sioux were among the 20 most Republican counties in America in 2000. Throw Thomas county in there, too, as 94th poorest and 26th Republicanest.

Now why is this? Did they not expect the horrendous farm bill passed in 2001? Did they even care about that since the homos were itchin' to get hitched and Dick Gephardt was gonna take away their 30 ought 6's and their bibles?

And why is this almost an exclusively Nebraska phenomenon? Only two other counties made both lists: Madison, ID was the 37th poorest and 6th Republicanest, and Sanpete, UT, 85th poorest and 69th Republicanest.

One cause could be the candidacy of Nebraska Godhead, Tom Osborne, as 3rd district congressman. I didn't see the Statesman's methodology anywhere so I'm assuming it was based on all elections held in 2000. Osborne's margins of victory have been in the 60+% range each times he's run, which would skew the results somewhat. And God knows, it's a sin to vote against the football coach. And business as usual anyway. TO is in D.C. to vote for everything Hastert and Delay tell him to. Oh, he might make noise about protecting trout streams every now and then (he wouldn't want his hobby to be endangered) and he's hot on banning betting on college football in Vegas. Why that's stupid is enough to make up another post so I'll save it.

Any other Nebraskans, poor people or Republicans care to chime in?

Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:34 PM | Comments (4)

Information please

Does anyone know where I can find that list of the 100 poorest counties that's released every year? I spent about two hours last night googling and digging around in the Census and Department of Commerce websites to no avail.

Thank you.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 08:01 AM | Comments (3)

September 20, 2004

Lulled into Complacency: Why I'm more behind than I think I am

Ambimb tells us that only three weeks into the semester he's already far behind, especially in his most hated class, Corporations, the class with the uber-Socratic professor in which he hasn't been called on yet.

I'm in a bit of a different situation in that I got called on in Crim Pro already, and was reduced to a smouldering pile of ashes by the end of the class. Knowing that Prof CrimPro only calls on one person in each 75 minute class, that there are 70+ students in the class and that there are only 19 class periods left in the semester, I won't get called on again. That's makes it almost impossible for me to force myself to do the reading well, if at all. I've been giving each day's reading a cursory skim since I got called on, and since there's only 28 classes and lots of material to cover, the reading assignments are usually pretty hefty. Add that to the fact that Prof CrimPro is content to let his victim give wrong answers for half the class, making taking decent notes somewhat difficult. I'm a tad lost in there.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 08:11 PM | Comments (2)

September 19, 2004

"Adjourn your asses"

Stringer Bell's words indicating the end of the meeting of his drug distribution crew. Stringer has been taking too many business classes at the local CC and is now not only trying to run his drug business like a legitimate concern. He's also making his 19 year old thugs observe basic parliamentary procedure.

Tonight's episode was all over the place. McNulty still believes the wire tap they've been running for six months is just this close to giving up information that will bring down Proposition Joe and/or Stringer Bell. Lt. Daniels and some higher-ups think it's time to arrest who they can and move on. Red Rhonda, The Dirty DA, agrees. No magistrate is going to extend their wire-tap any longer with no results. Of course, this sets up McNulty to make an end-run around the chain of command and piss everyone off, although he'll wind up being right.

The murder rate in Baltimore is also way up and the city council is coming down hard on Commissioner Burrell and Deputy Commish Rawls. One of the city councilmen had previously tried to get Burrell to ask his subcommittee help when the mayor won't give him what he needs, but Burrell, a big fan of the chain of command, refused. Now he's getting his payback for refusing that help.

It looks like the murder rate plotline will revolve around Major "Bunny" Colvin who's set to retire in 6 months. He's got Herc and Carver working out of his district now, so I imagine he'll get tied in with Lt. Daniels' detail.

A couple of minor plotlines that might erupt later on: An old school gangster who just got released after 14 years was set up with a package to move to get himself back in the game. One of the young punks stole it from him and almost shot him. Bubbles and Johnny spent the whole episode trying to collect enough scrap metal to sell for cash so they could buy some dope. They didn't have enough after a gangsta stole their pants. Now they're desperate and if they don't get themselves killed, I'll be really surprised.

Not a whole lot of crim pro in this episode aside from the very thin probable cause they have for continuing the wire-tap. One of the lieutenants they have their eye on doesn't even talk on the phone. There is hope that Prop Joe's nephew, who says the word "cocaine" on the phone about every 10 minutes, will get promoted within the organization.

I feel a little out of the loop right now. I was able to jump into the second season without ever having seen an episode but anyone starting in on the 3rd season in the same way may have to be patient or try and catch old episodes as they run.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:47 PM

A coupla things

  1. I just realized I didn't have a link to Rufus T. Firefly's world wide web log Running With Lawyers. How silly of me. He's not only crazy for an insurance defense lawyer (the one's I've met seem like The Family Circus is the pinnacle of humor for them), he's just straight up crazy, but in an awesome way. And by awesome, I mean totally sweet.

  2. The Wire blogging will begin later tonight. I expect hits to go through the roof. When I blogged Deadwood earlier this year, I got more hits from people googling "Deadwood", "Al Swearengen", "Wild Bill" and "Seth Bullock" than I could have ever hoped to get from people googling "How to totally bomb your contracts final."

    I just viewed the preview for the 3rd season on HBO's Wire site and I'm sort of disappointed. The plot I found most interesting from last season, the dope smuggling and cargo stealing through the port of Baltimore and it's connection to a shadowy old codger known as "The Greek" seems to be completely absent.

    The drug plot involving Stringer Bell, Avon Barksdale seems to still be the main focus. It looks like Omar is still around looking to kill anyone who looks at him funny and I caught a glimpse of Assistant State's Attorney Rhonda Pearlman putting the moves on Lt. Daniels. The big question is whether the cops will bring in Proposition Joe for his connections to The Greek or leave him out there in order to get more information.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 01:35 AM

Politics as Usual

After reading Marbury a few weeks ago (don't get me started on why Con Law is a 2L class here), I was intrigued by the political machinations that led up to it and the fallout from it so a friend of mine loaned me his copy of What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, by James F. Simon, a law prof at NYU. I skipped American history in undergrad in favor of the more broad History of Western Civilization, so I'm learning a few things. Looking back, I wish I had taken the American history track. In fact, I think it's a good idea for universities to require two semesters of it.

I'll have more to say about this book later, but having just finished the chapter that delves into prosecutions under the Sedition Act, I'm really, really looking forward to the part of the book in which Supreme Court Justice Samuel P. Chase is impeached.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 12:55 AM

September 18, 2004

Half-Assed Movie Review Boy

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

You know it's a boring Saturday when I'm willing to go to a movie in a theater. Control Room was playing at The Ross but I was in the mood for a tricked-out P-40 Warhawk, giant robots, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie with an eyepatch.

I wasn't too impressed with the story since it's just another madman-wanting-to-blow-up-the-earth plot that we've all seen a hundred times. However, the story hung together well enough to not annoy so much that I couldn't enjoy the look and feel of the film. Because that's really what this movie is all about.

Kerry Conran wrote the script in addition to directing, so he had pretty solid control over everything, allowing him to create a vintage 1940's looking movie with elements of classic Buck Rogers, Indiana Jones, James Bond. The washed-out colors and soft focus will probably annoy some viewers but to me it just added an art-deco noir vibe to the whole thing.

What really impressed me was Conran's innovative use of CGI. Almost everything in the film is computer animated. According to what I've read, pretty much everything was done in front of a blue screen with just a few props. This might sound like it would look too fake or too cheesy but on the contrary, I think using CGI evenly throughout makes for a more even movie. Some films that use a lot of live-action shots and then just throw in some CGI when it was needed tend to look a bit jagged. The fake stuff stands out too much. A couple of movies that suffered this problem just off the top of my head are Spiderman and the last Bond film, whatever it was called.

Most of the jokes in the film worked well, too, which also helped cover up the hokey story. Paltrow and Jude Law showed some terrific chemistry, which may have been hard to establish since they were mostly working by themselves in front of a blue screen. Jolie looked dashing in her eye patch as the commander of an airborne British aircraft carrier. Oh, and a very young Sir Laurence Olivier also appears in the film thanks to some archival footage, the origin of which I have been unable to discover.

I could have waited to see this until it showed up on HBO or even PPV, but every once in awhile, even I want to go to the movies.

I'm excited for Conran's next project, A Princess of Mars, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' series of pulp novels from the 1910's and 1920's. I've read the series probably three times, and I might just have to dig them up again.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:43 PM

September 17, 2004

Random Sandwich Blogging

Just for the record, the Blimpie Best ® can't hold a candle to Jimmy John's Vito.

Thank you.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:05 PM | Comments (2)

Think Globally, Blog Locally

Some might have noticed a growing number of local, that is, Nebraska-focused, blogs showing up over on the right. This recent surge might be attributable to the fact that more people are blogging now, although if you read the linked locals, there is a pointed focus on Nebraska's upcoming 1st District House election (there's also another blog, Fortenberry Fan, that I've linked to in a previous post but won't blogroll because I can't justify linking to a site agitating to send a far right theocrat to represent me in the House of Representatives.). This makes me wonder if a couple of these local blogs will continue beyond Nov. 2.

I'm pretty sure Thinkheavyblog will stick around. I've known phat for at least 12 years and one election loss isn't going to quiet him.

To the Barricades isn't likely to go away anytime soon, although posting has been extremely light lately. I think they're having some MT troubles, plus, Stephen, the proprietor of the blog, has recently gone into business for himself and is probably pressed for time. Pessimist from The Left Coaster still posts there occasionally, as does Renaissance Woman.

Lincoln Blog doesn't touch too much on politics outside of some occasional stuff dealing with downtown development. It's more of a community building experiment. It's also operated by someone who's kind of a local legend, music wise. Any aging punks out there remember Caulfield Records, or bands like Sideshow, Mercy Rule, Christie Front Drive, Giant's Chair, Frontier Trust or Molly McGuire from the early 90's?

This brings me to the two blogs I wonder about. Connealy4Nebraska is obviously heavily invested in Matt Connealy winning the 1st District House seat. If he wins, I could see it continuing, if he loses, well, I'm not so sure. But who am I kidding? Of course Matt Connealy is going to win.

Two Nebraskas also appears to be focused completely on the House race, but it also touches on national political themes only on a state level. In the unlikely event of Connealy losing, I sure hope this one doesn't go away. Despite it only being about a month and seven posts old, the analysis there is top-notch.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 08:50 PM | Comments (3)

Friday Fetish

This one looks like it might be kind of fun for the people actually doing it, but I don't know that watching it would really do it for me. Here's some totally hot and totally work-safe

Balloon Popping

It's not just the popping though. It appears that the blowing up of the balloons is at least half the fun.

Unfortunately, I'm not a member, but there are short preview videos of cute women blowing up balloons, including a clip from "Ashley's Balloons."

She starts the party with some of her own mouse ear balloons, inflating them, and gradually moving on to some big rounds, zeps and even a worker or two... she uses a hand pump on the workers. She surrounds herself with the balloons, her costume changes, she does some gum bubbles, and some surprise popping of unlucky balloons. She then sits in her inflatible chair and blows up some big rounds by mouth... then teases us with some popping.

Maybe this is just the thing you've been looking for to put a little pop back in your relationship. You'll never know until you try it.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 01:00 AM

September 16, 2004

Shrill Steelcage Smackdown

I used to wonder if supposedly greater beings in the blogosphere noticed when lesser blogs spent an inordinate amount of time and energy criticizing them. Musclehead spent a lot of time over the recent months heaping derision on Professor Bainbridge and Dylan spends even more time criticizing Professor Leiter (and his guest posters).

It appears that Prof. Leiter finally noticed. As I've been keeping up with very important Times New Roman Kerning scandal, I've been reading Dylan fairly regularly and took notice of a recent upsurge in Leiter-and-his-friends-are-commie-appeasers posts so when I hit Prof. Leiter's blog today and read the first few lines, I knew exactly about whom he was talking.

As I've noted in the past, one of the decidedly weird aspects of the blogosphere is discovering that one is being denounced as "ignorant" or "stupid" by noxious mediocrities, individuals of no discernible accomplishment or intelligence, whose denouncements themselves often contain conceptual, factual or argumentative mistakes. (Remember Joe Carter from L'Affaire VanDyke?) Have these people no critical distance from themselves, no sense of their own limitations, no perspective on how out of their depth they are? Or, perhaps, as the psychologists report, "the less they know, the less they know it."

Now Prof. Leiter is probably a little too harsh on Dylan. He's a decent guy after all, even if he is more than a bit to the right of me.

I was just about to write that I was looking forward to Dylan's response when I noticed he's already responded. It's too long for me to read right now but it looks to be quite self-deprecating and a little bit funny. And boredom in class pretty much gives one license to do just about anything.

Anyway, I've never really thought to criticize a Prof on-line. I'm not anonymous or semi-anonymous so I try and watch my mouth when it comes to other people as much as I can.

I was credited on Prof. Leiter's site way back in January when I emailed him. One thing I've found is that many of the bigshot bloggers who don't have comments do respond to emails either personally or in their blogs. That's my preferred method of voicing agreement or disagreement. It probably saves me a hell of a lot of embarrassment.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:57 PM | Comments (2)

Welcome Back, Players

After last week's good start, we look to get red hot this weekend and help all of you make Saturday September 18, Bookie Burning Day. That's right folks. There are at least Three!, That's right, Three ¡ 99-Star Triple-Steam-Locks ® this week. We're including one in the free Friday Releases to convince you, the Smart Player, that you can do no better than the Half-Cocked Tout Jackpot Wad, only $29.95/week for all 20 college pigskin picks.

That's all for this week, Players. It's a tough schedule and I can't give everything away for free. Next week we'll also add NFL picks to the mix.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 06:07 PM

September 15, 2004

Classic Alt Rock

A couple of weeks ago my friend Thomas tipped me off to the fact that VH1 Classic now has a classic alt rock hour which takes me back to 120 Minutes on MTV circa 1989. He's going to Case Western Law in Cleveland so he gets VHI Classic on basic cable, Cleveland being the Rock and Roll city for some reason. I have to remember to go all the way to channel 262 to see it, but every once in awhile I do.

Tonight, after watching Bad Santa, which is hilarious, but not as funny as the new Best of Triumph the Comic Insult Dog DVD, I flipped over to 262, and after rebooting my cable box for the 10th time this week, I was able to see some pretty cool stuff. The Cramps. The Reverend Horton Heat. The Jam.

And now that VH1 Classic is programming to the current thirtysomethings, how long until FM radio starts to do the same?

Posted by Half-Cocked at 11:01 PM | Comments (2)

My Decoder Ring Hasn't Arrived Yet

In the meantime, can someone help me unpack the meaning of a sign held by a Bush supporter at a rally in Ohio?

According to the Chillicothe (Ohio) Gazette the sign read: "If Jesus weren't a jew, he'd be an American."

A completely textual reading suggests Jews aren't Americans. Now despite my living in the great flyover I know and work with several Jews, and from what I can tell they're all Americans. I mean, I haven't inspected their papers or anything, but I'm pretty sure they were born on American soil and are, by default, Americans.

I don't know if anything can be gleaned from looking at the original understanding of the framer of the sign. I can't claim to be able to stand in the shoes and experience the muddled head of someone at a Bush rally. Whether Jesus is a jew or not, he's still dead, unless of course, he's Shakira, but I don't want to lay out my complex proof that clearly shows Shakira is the second coming quite yet.

A historical reading goes nowhere either. Historically, Jews weren't Americans, but Israelites. Around 1 A.D., when Jesus was just the Baby Jesus, the Jews were Roman subjects. If Jesus wasn't a Jew at that time, he still wouldn't have had much claim to American citizenship even if we ignore the fact that no one had American citizenship at that time. Sure, the continents known as the Americas existed in some form, but the framer of the sign is clearly equating American with USAian, and there was definitely no USA at that time.

The only possible explanation comes from a political analysis of the sign. The framer, in his frenzy to reach the conclusion Jesus=USA=George Bush, just got a little carried away and wound up with something that didn't make a whole lot of sense.

Here's my sign to go along with the theme: "If My Boss wasn't a Jewish Carpenter, he would have been President."

Posted by Half-Cocked at 01:18 PM | Comments (3)

September 13, 2004

Does it taste sorta like burning?

Unfair Competition, for better or for worse, has made me even more hypersensitive to television advertising claims than I already was. Tonight, while reading Evidence and watching Ahman Green score mad points for my fantasy team, I kept hearing these Coors Light commercials talking about how they're making the coldest tasting beer in the world.

What exactly does cold taste like? Is it the flavor of a frozen flag pole when your tongue is stuck to it? Is it what Dippin' Dots taste like before they melt enough for the flavor to leak out? Is it the soothing sensation of liquid nitrogen dripping onto your tongue?

If Miller decided to sue Coors under the Lanham Act because of this claim could they do mall surveys in which they had people taste Miller Lite and Coors Light and then ask them, "OK, now which beer tastes colder, Beer A or Beer B?" How many of the bored mid-afternoon mall-goers would respond by saying "What the fuck are you talking about? They both taste like diluted piss."

Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:21 PM | Comments (1)

Tony Who?

In Unfair Competition today we began our discussion of trademark with the fountainhead industry of trademark disputes, breakfast cereal.

Professor Unfair Competition: What about frosted flakes? Sugar coated corn flakes. Anyone can call their cereal frosted flakes because it's such a generic, descriptive term, right?

Young 3L two rows in front of me: But maybe 'frosted flakes' has acquired a secondary meaning. Doesn't everyone think of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes. They have that, that creature on the box.

Prof UC: You're referring, of course, to Tony the Creature.

Class erupts in laughter.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 08:46 PM

September 12, 2004

No Blockhead here

I haven't done one of these for awhile and 2:30 a.m. on a Sunday seems like a good time:

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by Half-Cocked at 02:27 AM

September 10, 2004

Free Steam

A second Friday feature, which was also done on a previous weblog, my for-entertainment-purposes-only Top 5 College Football Releases. If you want the 20 game package for only $29/week, email me with your credit card number.

Thank you for reading and good luck in your free Yahoo! pick 'em game.

3-2 isn't a bad way to start off. It looks like the parity promised by the scholarship limitations is really starting to take hold. An average-at-best Notre Dame beat #8 Michigan. Perennial Big 10 doormats, Indiana, won at #24 Oregon, traditionally one of the tougher road games for any team. Ohio St. needed a last second field goal to hold off Marshall in Columbus.

Let's recap:

Fresno State looked far better than I expected, or maybe K St. is just that bad. Not only did Fresno State cover, but they won outright, 45-21.

Georgia won, but only by 4, and they probably should have lost. Columbia is a tough place to play.

USC dispatched Colorado State with ease, 49-0.

Arkansas lost to Texas, 20-22, but they covered, and that's really all that matters. The Hogs had plenty of chances to win outright, but their experienced senior QB turned the ball over twice down the stretch.

Nebraska looked like crap against Southern Miss. Having your inexperienced QB throw 42 passes into the teeth of one of the more complex defenses in the nation probably isn't a very good idea, especially when your running backs are knifing through the opponent's front 7 with relative ease. Passing is fine, passing for passing's sake is silly when the ground game is working.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:45 PM

Friday Fetish

I've decided to revive an old weekly feature from my long gone blog of 3 years ago, both for the fun of it, and the desire for freaky Google hits.

Yes, it's the reincarnation of Friday Fetish, in which I expose innocent students of the law to the really funny and bizarre ways in which some people get turned on. Most of these will be work-safe in that there aren't any naked pictures of women riding on the backs of men wearing saddles and holding bits in their mouths. If something isn't work-safe, I'll try and let you know. So, without further hemming and/or hawing witness my favorite funny fetish...


We are a group comprised of men and women, straight, gay and bisexuals, old and young who found each another because of one commonality.. the hiccups!
If you have the hiccups and would like to leave us a recording of them, you can do so anonymously by calling 800-MY-YAHOO (800-699-2466) Mailbox/PIN HICCUPS4ME (4422877463) and leave us a message.

You can also read cool hiccup stories and download hiccup sound and video files. I didn't look at the videos but I hope my old favorite is there, the one in which the girl is sitting on a bed in her underwear watching TV and hiccupping.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:07 PM


Very early season observations:

Gary Pinkel may be this year's Frank Solich. Why in the world did Brad Smith throw the ball 46 times on Thursday night? Trying to turn a natural playmaker into a static drop-back passer in his third season of college football is just plain stupid. I've always rooted for Troy, though, since they played up here in Lincoln 3 out of the previous 4 years.

It's pretty clear why Brock Berlin couldn't make it at Florida. I'm surprised that Miami didn't have a decent backup to Ken Dorsey that could beat out Berlin for the starting QB job.

The Patriots pulled out another close one against Indy thanks to the best kicker in the league missing a field goal. The way they're going and with the addition of Corey Dillon, they've got to be repeat favorites this year.

It'll be easier to judge the Callahan makeover here in Lincoln after tomorrow morning's game against Southern Miss. The 40 point win over Western Illinois doesn't count.

Brent Musberger is still a tumbling, tumbling dickweed.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:21 PM

September 08, 2004

Thai Massage, anyone?

My good friend Sara is back in Thailand for the umpteenth time, this time working on a book. She's blogging her experience this time around and has a lot of interesting things to say.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 03:55 PM

Question for Dick Cheney


Are you threatening me!?!

Posted by Half-Cocked at 03:54 PM | Comments (1)

3 down,

11 weeks until exams. I can't believe how quickly this 3rd semester is flying by, well, and how high over my head administrative law is still flying. It's starting to make a little more sense, though. Legislative veto? Check. Executive power of removal? We're getting there.

I'm ready to be done with the 4th Amendment in Crim Pro anytime now. We're at least moving out of the abstract, highly theoretical area of the exclusionary rule and into some more substantive, procedural aspects. The question of whether your garbage sitting on the curb is fair game for cats, dogs, your nosy neighbor and cops, or whether the cops can use heat-sensing electronics to figure out if you've got some high-wattage grow lamps nursing your sticky-icky to maximum THCness.

Evidence continues to be interesting although sometimes the classroom back-and-forth seems to devolve into the Horatio Sanz/Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, bit making fun of observational comedians. "Hey, I see something and then I tell you about it." I think it's time to start on flash cards for hearsay exceptions.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 03:40 PM

September 07, 2004

Talkin' about Frivolous Lawsuits

When I saw the video clip of George W. Bush talking about frivolous lawsuits and their negative effect on lovemaking by OB/GYN's, I got to thinking about frivolous lawsuits. Not in the malpractice sense, though. I often wonder about the definition of frivolous when the word is used by tort reformers. From my experience with lawyers, PI lawyers know they won't get paid if a lawsuit is frivolous. Summary judgment takes care of the ones that do get filed. That's another subject for another blog, though.

No, I was thinking about the cases we've been reading in Unfair Competition over the last couple of weeks revolving around § 43(a) of the Lanham Act, aka 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a).

More on the click-through.

The section of the Lanham Act I mentioned reads like this:

§ 1125. False designations of origin and false descriptions forbidden

(a) Civil action.
(1) Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which--
(A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or
(B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person's goods, services, or commercial activities,
shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.

The Lanham Act provides a much lower bar for recovery than the old common law causes of action for false advertising and disparagement. For instance, in common law product disparagement, the plaintiff has to show malice or bad faith and special damages as elements. Under the Lanham Act, you are not required to plead special damages and there is no intent element. On top of that, you don't actually have to be damaged, but only need to have a reasonable belief that you have been damaged or are likely to be damaged.

Seems pretty easy to me, and judging by the cases I've been reading, lots of corporations think the same thing. In Castrol v. Quaker State, 977 F.2d 57 (2nd Cir. 1992), Castrol sued Quaker State because Quaker State said in a commercial that their oil protects better at start-up than any other oil. Tests showed that Quaker State did indeed flow to vital engines parts faster, but because residual oil did the same thing, Quaker State's claim was not literally true. Technically, though, Quaker State did work better.

Johnson & Johnson (Mylanta) sued Smithkline Beecham (Tums) for listing the ingredients in Mylanta in a commercial comparing it to Tums. Mylanta contains aluminium and Tums doesn't. The issue was that consumers might think that Mylanta is bad for you since there were rumours going around that aluminium caused Alzheimer's. Smithkline won despite J&J's consumer surveys because not enough people drew a connection between the light metal and Alzheimer's. Johnson & Johnson v. Smithkline Beecham, 960 F.2d 294 (2nd Cir. 1992).

This is just a sample of cases that made it to the appellate level. Johnson & Johnson pops up multiple times. They sued the company who makes Nair once because Nair started marketing Nair with Baby Oil, which might cause consumers to think that one didn't need baby oil after depilitation anymore. Johnson & Johnson v. Carter-Wallace, Inc., 631 F.2d 186 (2nd Cir. 1980).

The Nair commercial, for anyone who watched soaps during the summer in the 80's, was pretty rich.

"Who's got baby oil?
Nair's got baby oil.
If you're a baby goil, Nair with baby oil."

Remedies under the Lanham Act include injuntive relief and damages based on profits lost by the plaintiff on sales actually diverted to the false advertiser, profits lost by the plaintiff on sales made at reduced prices as a result of the false advertising, the costs of any completed advertising that actually and reasonably responds to the offending ads and quantifiable harm to the plaintiff's good will. In addition there's an alternate method of recovery that works on an unjust enrichment theory, allowing the plaintiff to recover the defendant's profits gained from the false advertising. Oh, yeah, and compensatory damages can be tripled by the court in certain situations.

According to Prof Unfair Comp, most courts are fairly easy when it comes to showing damages. Just about any reasonable sounding economic model will do.

As I see it, the Lanham Act is an open invitation for frivolous corporate lawsuits. A low burden of proof and a vast sea of damage possibilities.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 06:22 PM

September 03, 2004

Is Blogging Over?

Quite possibly.

Larry King blogs

Posted: 10:00 p.m. ET
From Larry King, host, "Larry King Live"

It's a new thrill to me to blog ... and I may become a permanent blogger. In fact, blogging could become my life.

via Tbogg.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 07:15 PM

Setting the Tone

A shrillness-free weekend is kicking off here at Half Cocked. A 3 day weekend to take the mind off the troubles of the world. What horrible tragedy in Russia (it's not really Russia anyway, it's North Ossetia, which might as well be Idaho)? Hurricane Who? I'm spending this Communist holiday (labor, who cares about labor?) getting way ahead in my reading and viddying lots of college football. Curses on that taifun in the Carribean which is causing the Miami-FSU game to be moved from Monday.

Here's a fascinating world wide web log (thanks to the new Western ascii-alice for the tip), The Knowledge for Thirst in which two guys who are more beverage-obsessed than even me dissect the world of liquid refreshments.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 06:42 PM

September 02, 2004

Transparent Fools

Apparently after gauging the reaction from both sides, the GOP has decided that Zig-Zag Zell was speaking for himself, and they're not even letting the crazy old coot sit in the Preznit's box tonight. As if no one knows that convention speeches are vetted multiple times by the campaign staff before they're allowed to be presented to the delegates.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:06 PM

September 01, 2004

Fafblog! is better than yours

For some solid bi-partisan blogging from the RNC, Giblets and Fafnir over at Fafblog! are doing a tremendous job. That week at the beach seems to have done them some good.

The Medium Lobster seems to be staying above the fray for now, as befits his humongous intellect. Hopefully it will chime in at some point.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 11:57 PM | Comments (9)

Public Service Announcement

Zell Miller and Dick Cheney make Saturn look like a vegetarian the way they appeared to be frothing baby eaters tonight.

Zell Miller's website still features this text:

He was once a lieutenant governor – but he didn't stay in that office 16 years, like someone else I know. It just took two years before the people of Massachusetts moved him into the United States Senate in 1984.

In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington.

Early in his Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, and he fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so.

John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment. Business Week magazine named him one of the top pro-technology legislators and made him a member of its "Digital Dozen."

Bush Flip-Flops

via Kos.

Wanna know what John Kerry was up to in the Senate? Well, for one thing he helped bring down an international money laundering, terror funding operation, against the wishes of many on both sides of the aisle.

From the Executive Summary on the BCCI affair:

BCCI's criminality included fraud by BCCI and BCCI customers involving billions of dollars; money laundering in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas; BCCI's bribery of officials in most of those locations; support of terrorism, arms trafficking, and the sale of nuclear technologies; management of prostitution; the commission and facilitation of income tax evasion, smuggling, and illegal immigration; illicit purchases of banks and real estate; and a panoply of financial crimes limited only by the imagination of its officers and customers.

And a more recent article from The Washington Monthly that gets into Kerry's fight to bring down BCCI.

It's hard to find a good excert since the whole article is important but here's a juicy one.

As the presidential campaign enters its final stretch, Kerry's BCCI experience is important for two reasons. First, it reveals Kerry's foresight in fighting terrorism that is critical for any president in this age of asymmetrical threats. As The Washington Post noted, "years before money laundering became a centerpiece of antiterrorist efforts...Kerry crusaded for controls on global money laundering in the name of national security."

Make no mistake about it, BCCI would have been a player. A decade after Kerry helped shut the bank down, the CIA discovered Osama bin Laden was among those with accounts at the bank. A French intelligence report obtained by The Washington Post in 2002 identified dozens of companies and individuals who were involved with BCCI and were found to be dealing with bin Laden after the bank collapsed, and that the financial network operated by bin Laden today "is similar to the network put in place in the 1980s by BCCI." As one senior U.S. investigator said in 2002, "BCCI was the mother and father of terrorist financing operations."

Posted by Half-Cocked at 11:01 PM

Best MLB Game Ever

I imagine Soup likes this result - Indians 22 - Yankees 0. So do I. Worst shutout loss since 1900. The Yankees are really, really trying to give up their big lead to the Red Sox.

Posted by Half-Cocked at 12:06 AM | Comments (1)