June 30, 2005
South Dakota Developing
I wrote about the Clean Cut Kid and the well-developed South Dakota blogosphere earlier this year and now it looks like the Kid may have broken a big one.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 11:50 PM
Google just keeps dropping cool stuff. Google Maps going worldwide was awesome and now they've done even better with Google Earth, which is basically a 3D globe of the earth that allows you to zoom, pan and tilt and basically fly all over the planet.
When you launch the application you're looking at the earth from a very high orbit and can then either zoom in or enter an address or lat/long and the 3D application flies you to the location you entered. I just got done flying through the Grand Canyon and over Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. There are plenty of overlays too. Once you've found your spot you can select a variety of different services and see where the bars, restaurants, churches, school districts, parks and grocery stores are.
It does require some decent computing power including a 3D video card (they suggest 32 MB video card but I wouldn't try it with less than 64 MB of video RAM) and a broadband connection. Oh, and no Mac support yet.
Another big time waster.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 08:33 PM
June 29, 2005
I could not resist this
Almost a year ago I made light of certain Republican Senators' disposition towards bestiality including Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum (R-PA). It now appears that Rick is putting his political muscle where his mouth is.
Puppies and kittens are not likely the first things that come to mind when many think of Sen. Rick Santorum, but the conservative No. 3 Senate Republican has won high praise from the Humane Society of the United States for pushing legislation aimed at ending breeding facilities known as puppy mills.
"He's a man with a heart, and he doesn't think it's any more acceptable to treat animals cruelly than humans," said Mary Beth Sweetland, director of research and investigations for the Norfolk, Va.-based PETA.
I beg to differ. Puppies are one of the first things that come to mind when I think of Rick Santorum, along with a certain frothy mixture. And oddly enough, I also think of kittens when I think of the Senate since famed video doctor, Sen. Bill Frist, has a certain affinity for cats in his past.
I wonder if Rick's support for kittens and puppies bothers Bill at all.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:47 PM
No runaway bride here
A young woman decided to call off her wedding 12 days before the event and her parents knew they'd be stuck with the bill, so they decided to have a party anyway and invited the homeless.
Residents of the Interfaith Family Shelter, housed in a former convent across from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church where the wedding had been scheduled, attended the bash thrown by Katie Hosking, 22, a medical assistant at the Everett Clinic, and her parents, Bill and Susan Hosking of Lake Stevens.
"They had a DJ and really good music. It was a warm, friendly atmosphere. The food was delicious. It was a nice break with people not worrying about anything for one night," shelter manager Carol Oliva said. "Toward the end of the evening, they packed up all the leftover food and we got to bring it back to the shelter."
I wonder how the former groom-to-be feels.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:06 PM
How much blood?
Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:55 PM
June 28, 2005
Fruitcake is like Imperial Stout or IPA
Back in the day when Britain had a worldwide empire and shipped beer all over the world in tall, wooden ships, a couple of different methods were used for preserving that beer over the long journey. India Pale Ale to this day is so hoppy because before shipping pale ale to India, extra hops were added as a preservative. Imperial Stout (named as such because it was brewed for the Russian Imperial Court), likewise, was brewed with transport in mind, except instead of hops the brewers just upped the alcohol content, producing what Jack Jackson calls "a boozy mess."
Fruitcakes are the same way. E. Spatch just got a fruitcake in the mail courtesy of her grandpa. It was mailed on 12/23/2004. I guess her grandpa didn't know that you need to mail a fruitcake in May for Christmas delivery since part of the fruitcake aging process is a protracted transport.
There's a big warehouse in Terre Haute, IN, where all the fruitcakes are stowed for 5 months upon receipt by the post office or other shipping services provider. It's called the Fruitcake Clearinghouse and is right next to the Terre Haute Public Library, which was finally rebuilt.
E. Spatch needn't worry. That fruitcake will still be as fresh as the day it was crapped out of the fruitcake machine even 10 years from now.
*A very collectible Notes from the (Legal) Underground mug to the first person who catches the movie reference in this post, assuming I ever acquire one of those sweet mugs.
June 27, 2005
Restraining orders: not worth the paper they're printed on?
Of all the Supreme Court opinions that came out today, the one I was most interested in was Castle Rock because we read the 10th Circuit opinion in Civil Rights Litigation this past spring and the facts were so gruesome that it stuck in my mind.
Judging from the opinion the answer to the query in the title to this post is literally "No." The court held, 7-2, that there is no 14th Amendment property interest in a restraining order granted by the government. A property interest must come from an entitlement and since the police can grant or deny a restraining order at their discretion, Gonzalez was not entitled to the enforcement of that restraining order.
The facts of this case are particularly horrific. A man showed up and took his three children from his ex-wife's house in violation of the restraining order. The woman continually called the police to enforce the order and find the man. The police kept putting her off telling her to wait just a little bit longer and then they'd go get the kids. About 10 hours after the kids went missing the father showed up at a police station and opened fire with a gun he had purchased earlier that evening. The police returned fire and killed him and then found the dead bodies of the three children in his truck.
Based on established 14th Amendment case law, the justices arrived at what is probably the right decision but Justice Stevens' dissent points out that while the restraining order could not be enforced, a contract with a private security company to protect the children could be. What is a restraining order if not a promise, like a contract, to do something. The court also chose to ignore its long tradition of deferring to the local courts in matters of interpretation of state law.
The past term gave us several decisions that seemed to dispense the opposite of justice, deferring to the vaunted political process that always seemed like a cop-out to me when we talked about it in Con Law. Hopefully state and municipal governments will take this decision and Kelo among others as a signal to fix their laws and statutes and prevent these things from happening again.
June 26, 2005
Handicapping the retirements
The offshore books don't seem to have much interest in handicapping the Supreme Court retirements which are bound to happen this week so I'll offer my odds.
Rehnquist - 3 to 5 - Betting on a Rehnquist retirement at this point makes you a Supreme Chalk Player in Supreme Court wagering.
O'Connor - 1.5 to 1 - I was inclined to make this an even money bet but she is younger than Rehnquist and Stevens so she might choose to hang around for awhile, if only to wait and see who replaces Rehnquist.
Stevens - 2 to 1 - Yeah, he's 85, but he's also the only liberal justice ready to retire and if I was in his shoes and still felt I could do my job, I'd hold out as long as I could.
This is, of course, for entertainment purposes only, but if anyone picks them all correctly, I'll send them a collectible Notes from the (Legal) Underground mug as soon as I get my hands on one.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:47 PM
This is pretty addictive. Google Maps/Satellite went worldwide this week and it's pretty easy to waste an hour or two trying to find sat images of various buildings, structures and locations.
Cryptome has some links to locations of interest to Cryptome-types.
Here are some I found tonight.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 12:20 AM
June 25, 2005
Is Backgammon making a comeback?
Judging from the trackamaback spam over the last week it would seem so.
Are you feeling just a little bit freer today? Maybe it's because the pert, uplifting breast of the Spirit of Justice has been revealed once more after over three years of concealment behind General Crisco Ashcroft's blue drapes.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 01:49 PM
Kelo in the context of Poletown's reversal
I'm not going to get into any outraged or even measured analysis of the Kelo decision because it's been done everywhere else much better than I could do it. I think Publius's analysis is pretty spot on, though, including his praise of Thomas's writing.
I was a little surprised by the decision since one of the landmark eminent domain cases in which private land was taken for private use, Poletown v. City of Detroit, 410 Mich. 616 (Mich. 1981), was overruled last summer in County of Wayne v. Hathcock, 471 Mich. 445 (Mich. 2004). The Hathcock ruling explicitly stated that the county's taking of private land in order to create a private technology park was unconstitutional because it didn't satisfy the public use requirement.
Did anyone else watch the Poletown documentary in Property class?
The Detroit Free-Press has a good article on the ruling from last summer.
Decisions like this make me glad I live in a city that is somewhat afraid of expansion and growth. There is occasionally some talk of condemning land in order to allow private development but it rarely happens. What's funny is that the Chamber of Commerce and real estate developers constantly criticize the city for not being growth-oriented and not interested enough in attracting new business. Those same people would be the first to criticize the city if it did what New London did. The CoC here is more interested in creating urban sprawl on the scale of Oklahoma City without concern for having the proper infrastructure in place.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 01:49 AM
June 22, 2005
Fiction, Pt. 2
Here's a continuation of what I started here.
Tom Miller’s telephone was ringing on the wall of his kitchen. His wife was at work and Tom was choking down the last of his toast 10 miles away in Clareton so the phone kept on ringing. As the phone rang most of the ostriches were still running. A few had stopped at Mark Bendel’s deer pond to drink but the rest had continued across the pasture and into a corn field. The corn was fairly tall at this point in the growing season but the bouncing heads of ostriches could be seen moving down the rows. The two birds that had decided to follow the highway north to Clareton were now running alongside the road, causing the heads of the few drivers who traveled that highway to turn rapidly as they rushed by the gawky creatures.
Mark Bendel cursed Miller, his damn birds and his technophobia as he closed his cell phone and watched the ostriches disappear into the corn field on the far side of the section. Bendel had been bugging Tom for at least a year to get a cell phone, but Tom had refused. He didn’t want to mess with all that new stuff, and besides, he didn’t want to be too easy to reach. Miller had said, “I call people when I need to. They don’t need to call me unless I’m at home.” Bendel flipped his phone back open and dialed the county sheriff’s office.
As the two rogue ostriches slowed to a trot alongside the highway, they caught the eye of Billy Macek who was drenched with sweat, trudging down a row of soybeans and hacking at the roots of weeds with a machete. He’d seen the ostriches before, right after Miller had acquired them. Everyone in a three county area and some from south of the Kansas border had driven by the new home for the birds when he’d gotten them, adding to what was known as Miller’s Menagerie. Tom Miller liked to speculate in non-traditional livestock. He had 6 bison in a field behind the ostriches, the beginning of a catfish farm in two ponds, 4 peacocks which strutted around his yard, 3 geese, 4 ducks, a llama and three alpacas. He’d tried to breed the llamas and alpacas for wool, but one llama had died and the alpacas hadn’t yet bothered to produce offspring.
“Yep,” Billy thought, “must be part of the magerie’s broke loose.” He hollered at the other two boys who were on the weed cutting crew with him but they were on the far side of the field working along a stand of cottonwoods. Billy wiped the muddy blade of his machete on the sole of his work boot and gazed back toward the highway wondering when Mr. Hagemeier would be there to pick them up.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:39 PM
June 21, 2005
Reality Sets In
I need to take a class this summer. I decided to take it easy last semester and only took 12 hours and now, to avoid taking 18 hours in the fall or next spring, I have to make up for that choice. It's even worse considering I didn't really feel like I had it any easier last semester.
The only option left is the 2nd 5-week session in which 2 whole classes are being offered for 90 fun-filled minutes every day. The choices are Advanced Torts and Con Law II.
The second would seem like the obvious choice but I'm afraid, judging from the professor, there will be a heavy emphasis on the establishment clause and maybe just a little proselytizing. I'm sure it would be interesting but I get enough of that from the media and the government. If I'm wrong, by all means, let me know. Advanced Torts is kind of a mystery. From the course description it sounds kind of heavy on theory which I like and there is no exam, just a paper on what I've heard described as an "unusual tort."
What's worse, since the law college is undergoing more renovations this summer all the classes are being held across the street at the dental college. Dentists...
Posted by Half-Cocked at 11:44 PM
June 20, 2005
And We're Back
Back from the long, fun weekend in Chicago. It's one of the few times I can remember when I didn't want to come home. Usually after about 3 days of sleeping on futons or in other less comfortable circumstances I'm dying to get home but this time, we were having so much fun that it was hard to wedge ourselves onto the crammed Southwest flight to Omaha.
Still, I was pretty happy when I saw this for the first time in almost five days.
***Refresh this page if you don't see photos. The free caching service I'm using to save ai some bandwidth doesn't always load the pics on the first try.
More trip blogging below.
We stayed with a friend of mine in Oldtown for a couple of days and then picked up and moved to another friend's place in the Ukranian Villge way out on Chicago Ave. for a couple of more days.
The wedding was at St. Vincent DePaul, a truly beautiful church. The soloist nailed "Ave Maria."
The reception was at the Hyatt Regency on Michigan Ave. and I don't think I'll ever be a guest at a more extravagant event. There were three open bars, one dedicated solely to martinis, and it wasn't even middle-shelf booze they were serving. As we had cocktails waiters circulated amongst the guests with trays of California rolls and bruschetta with fresh mozzarella among other things.
I ordered the beef for dinner but wasn't expecting two freakin' filets.
It was a little much but it was also delicious.
The food the two year old on the other side of our table was eating also looked pretty good.
The wedding cake was awesome of course and the post-cake desserts (I didn't quite get this) were delicious. On the left is the cake and on the right is the eggshell full of mango custard next to a cappucino.
We took it easy the next day and shopped at Binny's Beverage Depot where I tested the heft of the Tommygun Vodka and played the Trumpet Vodka.
Later that evening we ate lasagna, roasted beets and onions and lemon and artichoke salad at a friend's place and watched baseball.
June 16, 2005
Can't wait to eat at Hot Doug's tomorrow.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 03:48 PM
June 14, 2005
You've come a long way, Walt
Representative Walter Jones (R-NC), who two years ago led the charge to change "french fries" to "freedom fries" on Capitol Hill cafeteria menus is now among the lawmakers calling for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
A little something different
Just a little fiction I'm messing around with. I have a pretty good idea of where it's going, I think. It gets a lot darker.
When his ostriches broke free Tom Miller was 15 miles away in Clareton eating a plate of eggs and bacon. He was sitting in Verlene’s Cafe, a little diner across the street from the courthouse, and flirting with Becky the waitress. The bacon was perfect; crispy while still retaining a subtle chewiness and the eggs were fresh from Verlene’s farm. He didn’t really care about the eggs. He’d never really liked them. They were just a convenient way for him to stomach the dry whole-wheat toast his doctor ordered him to eat. He had conveniently forgotten the warning against bacon. Some things a man just couldn’t do, he thought as he watched Becky wiggle back toward the counter.
Miller was actually thinking about his ostriches right around the time they all went rushing through a newly discovered hole in the fence put there late the night before by a couple of local teenagers out cruising the backroads with a twelve of Old Mil stowed in the console between them. Miller was envisioning the money rolling in. The stupid birds were breeding, which he’d heard was the hardest thing to get them to do. He wondered if Verlene would be interested in selling ostrich burgers. He shook his head at the thought as he shoveled gleaming, golden egg yolk into his mouth. He could barely taste the toast. No, he’d sell the ostrich to the high-class restaurant in Lewisburg. The city people would pay much more for ostrich steaks. He smiled and thought about his ostriches some more.
The first person to notice the ostriches running free was Mark Bendel. At the time he was heading south on Highway 89 in his Dodge Ram on his way to a livestock sale in Lewisburg. The first ostrich ran directly in front of his truck as he was gazing into the pasture to the west wondering who owned it. There was a heavily wooded dry creek bed running along the south side of it and a decent-sized pond far up in the southwest corner. He envisioned himself huddled in a tree stand late next fall waiting for a big buck as it headed up the creek bed to drink from the pond covered with an almost invisible sheet of ice.
The first thing Mark felt was the impact. The 300 pound bird didn’t stand a chance. Mark was shaken out of his daydreaming just in time to see the gangly neck disappearing under the front of his truck. He slammed on his brakes and watched in awe as at least 20 six-foot tall birds trotted helter-skelter across the highway in front of him. He caught a glimpse of a couple dashing up the highway behind him headed toward Clareton. Miller and his goddamn freak birds, he thought. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed.
Heading for a Wedding
We're heading off to Chicago on on Thursday night for a wedding and won't be coming home until Monday afternoon so blogging will be no lighter than normal. This wedding's a pretty good deal. The reception is at this place so even with plane tickets and gift, we're still breaking even. I'm not eating or drinking anything the day of the wedding. Now if only there was a bar with blackjack pits across the hall from the reception like there was at a wedding I went to in Fargo several years ago.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 07:08 PM
June 09, 2005
I just need to say something
This has been bugging the shit out of me for a long time but it seems like in the last couple of days I've noticed too many instances to ignore it any longer.
When someone doesn't win they LOSE (lüz). That person is a LOSER (lü-z&r).
When something isn't tight it's LOOSE (lüs). When something is less tight than before it's LOOSER (lü-s&r).
That is all. Thank you.
An anthrax scare that doesn't stink
500 people were evacuated from the INS building here in Lincoln today when some white powder was found in a file room. 5 people who were exposed to the substance were taken to the hospital.
Tests show the white powder was just deodorant.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:34 PM
21st Century Press Gangs
You know recruiting isn't going very well when Marine Corps recruiters begin using the tactics of the British Navy circa 1805.
Marine recruiters began a relentless barrage of calls to Axel as soon as the mellow, compliant Sedro-Woolley High School grad had cut his 17th birthday cake. And soon it was nearly impossible to get the seekers of a few good men off the line.
The next weekend, when Marcia went to Seattle for the Folklife Festival and Axel was home alone, two recruiters showed up at the door.
Axel repeated the family mantra, but he was feeling frazzled and worn down by then. The sergeant was friendly but, at the same time, aggressively insistent. This time, when Axel said, "Not interested," the sarge turned surly, snapping, "You're making a big (bleeping) mistake!"
Next thing Axel knew, the same sergeant and another recruiter showed up at the LaConner Brewing Co., the restaurant where Axel works. And before Axel, an older cousin and other co-workers knew or understood what was happening, Axel was whisked away in a car.
"They said we were going somewhere but I didn't know we were going all the way to Seattle," Axel said.
At about 3:30 in the morning, Alex was awakened in the motel and fed a little something. Twelve hours later, without further sleep or food, he had taken a battery of tests and signed a lot of papers he hadn't gotten a chance to read. "Just formalities," he was told. "Sign here. And here. Nothing to worry about."
Posted by Half-Cocked at 01:39 AM
Meta meta blogging
Mary Pipher came over earlier tonight to interview me about blogging. She's working on a new book about different vehicles and methods of communication used to effect change or sway opinion. It sounds like the book will focus more on art - poetry, novels, film, etc., letters and traditional media - but she thought it would be wrong to omit blogs as a new form.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 01:14 AM
June 07, 2005
And speaking of books
It looks like Neal Stephenson has a new book out, Interface. I gotta admit, I bogged down halfway through The Confusion while my father-in-law was finishing The System of the World. The books are good, very well-written and packed with odd bits of knowledge, but I just couldn't find a compelling reason to finish the trilogy. Maybe someday.
The new book is co-written with someone named J. Frederick George. I can't find anything about him but I did just discover that not only is Interface now out, but so is The Cobweb, another joint venture between the two authors. Seriously, WTF? That's over 1100 pages of trade paperback since the Baroque Trilogy was finished.
Here's the jacket blurb from The Interface:
There's no way William A. Cozzano can lose the upcoming presidential election. He's a likable midwestern governor with one insidious advantage—an advantage provided by a shadowy group of backers. A biochip implanted in his head hardwires him to a computerized polling system. The mood of the electorate is channeled directly into his brain. Forget issues. Forget policy. Cozzano is more than the perfect candidate. He's a special effect.
and from The Cobweb:
When a foreign exchange student is found murdered at an Iowa University, Deputy Sheriff Clyde Banks finds that his investigation extends far beyond the small college town—all the way to the Middle East. Shady events at the school reveal that a powerful department is using federal grant money for highly dubious research. And what it’s producing is a very nasty bug.
Navigating a plot that leads from his own backyard to Washington, D.C., to the Gulf, where his Army Reservist wife has been called to duty, Banks realizes he may be the only person who can stop the wholesale slaughtering of thousands of Americans. It’s a lesson in foreign policy he’ll never forget.
Sounds like a couple of real conspiracy-laden, Dickian potboilers to me. Has anyone out there read either of these yet?
Posted by Half-Cocked at 08:56 PM
Summer Reading: Behold the unit-shifting power of the O!
Now that I don't have to worry about trudging through hundreds of pages of case law every week I can actually stand to read something that requires more than Teevee-watching attention and brainpower. For the last couple of weeks I've been trudging my way through Millennium by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.
Trudging probably isn't the right word if it is in fact a word because it's been a pretty enjoyable read. It's a history of the last thousand years written as if the reader were a galactic museum keeper thousands of years in the future. That view gives the reader a different perspective on human affairs. Some things that seem like tremendous events now shrink when taken in the context of the millennium and long, slow emerging patterns come more into focus.
It begins with Japanese court intrigue at the time Th e Tale of Genji, a book many consider to be the first novel, written by a woman of some means in imperial Japan with Jane Austen-like perception and wit. Much emphasis is also given to the monolithically steady and bend-but-not-break empire and nation of China and of course, the conflict between Christianity and Islam. He also draw a parallel between Catholic and Shiite and Protestant and Sunni, respectively, based on whether the religions give authority to the church and its leaders or the scripture. I'm not sure it means anything but it's an interesting parallel, nevertheless.
The last few chapters have focused closely on the commerce of European powers in the Far East and demonstrate just how tenuous some of those trade empires really were. I'm up to the period right before the American Revolution so I'm moving at a pretty good pace and I'm looking forward to my next read.
My next read will be those three Faulkner novels that I've started many times but never finished, The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying and Light in August. If the Oprah Book Club can do it, so can I. I have finished Absalom, Absalom, Sanctuary and The Unvanquished so I think I can make it. Seriously though, who else but Oprah could push a three volume set of Faulkner to #2 on the Amazon bestseller list. The estate of William Faulkner thanks you, Oprah, but it probably owes a bigger thanks to Sonny Bono.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 08:12 PM
Relieved not to be on the quarter system
Most of the 2L's have been done with their hell year for at least a month save for those poor souls going to schools that run on quarters. But finally E. Spatch can consider herself done. Congrats, E! LQ can't be far behind.
June 02, 2005
Two of my favorite subjects, pointless unfair competition lawsuits and shaving, clashed in federal court with Schick emerging as the victor.
Gillette Co. ads claiming its M3Power razor raises hair up and away from the skin are "unsubstantiated and inaccurate," a federal judge said in siding with Gillette's chief competitor, Schick-Wilkinson Sword.
The Schick president said that the ad claims "go well beyond the capabilities of the products."
I disagree. I didn't acquire an M3 Power until I got a coupon for a free one at Osco because I didn't think the ads set it apart from what I'd been using, the Old Spice 4x4. I was wrong and the Gillette ads were wrong. They wayyyyy understate how sweet shaving with the M3 Power truly is.
As for Schick's competitor, the Quattro, as I've said before, is a piece of crap.
I'll leave you with this poem by Jack Jackson and since I know Mr. Jackson is a 1st Amendment absolutist, I'm going to reprint the whole thing without permission.
Ode to the Mach3 Power
What was it I was saying about you,
You three-bladed wizard,
You bitchin' piece of wizardry?
You ultimate power, you ultimate dream?
And then I find you plug into a three-A battery
A battery vibrated three blades on my face?
I apologize, you three-bladed witch
Which I doubted for no reasoning.
I doubted for no seasoning.
My face says, "I'M FULL!"
Thanks to Thomas for the tip.
June 01, 2005
Improvement is in the Eye of the Beholder
The Weekly Coalition for Darfur post is up.
Kofi Annan and some other foreign observers are seeing improvement in Darfur but it sounds like they are missing a change in the region which, while less violent, is maybe more deadly.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 07:06 PM
Diamonds, Emeralds, Golden Fleece?
I was reading this story today about the English couple who celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary today and I wondered, what is the traditional 80th anniversary gift?
The Chicago Public Library has a pretty comprehensive list of both traditional and modern anniversary gifts. The modern 80th gift is diamond and pearl. The traditional list tops out at 75 with diamonds, diamond like stones and gold.
Diamond and pearl seems like a cop out. Shouldn't the 80th anniversary gift be something more rare than the title of a Prince album? How about a gram of Francium (there is only 20-30 g of the element present in the earth's crust at any one time) a piece of the Holy Prepuce or The Eternity Stone?
Posted by Half-Cocked at 06:27 PM