Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Blogger pride.

Followed a link on Instapundit to this blog post by Tom Humphrey, the Knoxville News Sentinel's Nashville bureau chief (read: traditional media). He's been sent to blog the NY convention. He writes:

"But, what the heck, if I’m going to sit here the evening before deserting my family for almost a week to watch Republican worship ceremonies for George W. Bush, not so long Democratic devotional on caring for John Kerry, might as well ramble a bit.

After all, bloggers, I am instructed, do not have to follow those ironclad rules of attribution, fact-checking, logic and such that burden the daily production of stuff to print by traditionally ink-stained wretches. You can just babble like a talk show radio guy."

Yep. That's what we do, just babble like morons for your pleasure, we don't fact check before we post, like traditional media (say the DI??).

Rebuttal posts are raining down hard and fast, with examples here, here and here.

I particularly like James Lilek's response, which goes beyond the blogger slam to critique the rest of the rhetoric:

"It’s interesting for several reasons: 1. the site is described as a “web-only blog,” which of course makes it distinctive from blogs disseminated by carrier pigeon or smoke signals. 2. we learn that the bureau chief for a major newspaper has trouble writing clearly. My bureau chief in DC would have sent back that first paragraph with several red question marks indicating she had no idea what the words between the first and last comma actually meant. The second graf is even better: “logic and such that burden the daily production of stuff to print by traditionally ink-stained wretches.” Wow. The daily production of stuff to print. And by who? Wretches. What kind? Ink-stained! Why? Because it’s a cliché. And how are they ink-stained? Traditionally! Yes, we’re all taken to the basement where we have our palm sliced with an old piece of linotype; ink is daubed into the wound, and we face a portrait of Joseph Pulitzer while holding our genitals in our left hand."

From the "Oops - never mind" files:

On Thursday, the DI publishes this story:

"Watch out, upperclassmen: Your tuition may go up just because you're older. UI Student Government President Lindsay Schutte has spoken with the state Board of Regents about the possibility of instituting differential tuition, charging juniors and seniors more to attend the UI. Until now, the student government and Schutte's own Giant Sloth Party have wisely been against this sort of policy. Yet, as the budget crisis has grown, our student government is resorting to unfair and deleterious measures to pay the bills. . . "

The article goes on to rant about the unfairness of the whole system.

On Monday, it publishes this correction:

"In an Aug. 26 editorial, "Tuition discrimination based on age," the DI incorrectly reported that UI Student Government President Lindsay Schutte had spoken to the state Board of Regents about differential tuition. Differential tuition was not discussed at that meeting. The DI regrets the error."

Allrighty then.
You really can't blog these days without running into something about the 527 political groups. Kerry denounces the Swifties' right to exist while praising MoveOn. How very unbiased of him. Meanwhile, MoveOn has sponsored swift boat ads of their own.

Ah, but the difference, says the Kerry group is that MoveOn is independent, whereas one of the people in the Swifty ads, retired Air Force Col. Ken Cordier, was a member of the Bush-Cheney campaign's veterans' steering committee, and a lawyer advising the Swifties, Benjamin Ginsberg, has served as counsel for the RNC regarding a suit on campaign funding laws. So, the argument goes, that means that MoveOn's ads are fine and dandy, while the Swifties have to be denounced.

Unfortunately, you can't get anything past these pesky bloggers. Antioch Road points out that the AP article which discusses Ginsberg's involvement as both RNC counsel and informal counsel for the Swifties includes this quote:

"Joe Sandler, a lawyer for the DNC and a group running anti-Bush ads, MoveOn.org, said there is nothing wrong with serving in both roles at once.

In addition to the FEC's coordination rules, attorneys are ethically bound to maintain attorney-client confidentiality, Sandler said. They could lose their law license if they violate that, he said."

So then Kerry reciprocates and denounces MoveOn's anti-Bush ad regarding Bush's service record.

Now, the Des Moines Register points out that both sides are calling for the repeal of these groups.


If the money is not coming from the RNC or the DNC, can't politically-minded Americans choose to separately fund ads for (or most likely against) a particular candidate? Isn't that what the whole "free speech" thing is about?

If the ads slander someone, let the legal system take care of it. Don't muzzle all independent groups simply because you're afraid the campaign will get to negative. Negative campaigning is basically an American tradition.

Actually, I'm rather surprised Kerry took the tactic of calling for the denouncement of the Swifties, which eventually gave him no choice but to denounce MoveOn. He's had the advantage when it comes to 527 groups and independent campaigning. As the UI hastens to point out in this article to the DI, the Americans for Change concert with the Dixie Chicks coming to Hancher is all funded by MoveOn. And whether you agreed with Fahrenheit 9/11 or not, you have to admit it was a brilliant piece of propoganda. Do you remember the MoveOn ads comparing Bush to Hitler? The DNC denounced those, though Kerry didn't say much specifically about them. Regardless, they didn't create the flak we're seeing now.

The Daily Kos speculates that the Swifties' ads were actually a calculated plan by Bush to entice Kerry to shut down the 527's and deprive himself of the massive benefits he's been reaping from the "free" publicity.

Hmm. That would mean GWB is rather Machevellian, and Kerry silly enough to fall for it.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Greenman blogs on the district court judge from Pennsylvania who issued a ruling that basically copied a brief submitted by the winning side.

Two side points:

1) I've had an associate state judge or two ask me to write up the order on a motion I've won and submit it for approval. But of course, they have a ton of cases and no law clerks to write out their opinions for them like most district court judges.

2) Somewhere in Pennsylvania, I'll bet a law clerk just got fired.
This is scary:

From Overlawyered:

"71-year-old Joyce Hadl charitably allowed a homeless woman, Susan L. Sachs, to stay with her rent-free in exchange for work around the house. According to a friend of Hadl's, when Sachs started exhibiting signs of mental illness, "walking around the house and calling Hadl insulting names", Hadl became alarmed and tried to get her to leave, but police called to the home concluded that they could not legally remove her. Hadl has since disappeared, and Sachs is now under policy custody, having been charged with her first-degree murder."

The number crunchers are at it again. The Yin Blog posts on this USA today article regarding the demographics of female voters - you're supposed to vote for Bush if you're married, Kerry if single. Not surprisingly, the more "traditional" you are (2 kids, white picket fence) the more likely you're going to be for Bush.

One side note: apparently single women are going to be one of the courted groups this year, with special programs like this one set up to cajole them into going to the polls. Maybe I'm just in time to get in on some perks.
Just had this forwarded to me:


A tragic fire on Sunday destroyed the personal library of President George W. Bush. Both of his books have been lost. A presidential spokesman said the president was devastated, as he had not finished coloring the second one.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The new opinions for the Iowa Court of Appeals are up.

A file under my supervision was taken up on appeal, and the court upheld our verdict. Nice job, Janice.

Also, the Court notes that certain kinds of grade manipulation in higher education can be illegal.

And so darn weird on so many levels. A handkerchief??? How very "Gone with the Wind" of him.

A cool new site begins to answer the burning questions of the age:

What happens if I cook an egg with a blowtorch? Or feed a roll of toilet paper into a shredder?

The Tribune reports that men are actually shelling out cash to send to virtual girlfriends that live in their cell phone. (Registration required to read the darn thing: login=Randommentality / password=password). If you don't pony up for the gifts, the microchip minxes will ignore your butt.

And there's no virtual sex allowed. (Then shouldn't they be marketed as virtual wives?) Teethy

H*ll, if anyone's really that hard up call me and I'll ignore you for free.


I guess I'm behind the times. Homercles reports that female video game characters have agreed to pose nude for next month's Playboy.

Next up in the gender wars: the machines win when both sexes become obsolete.
I know George Bush is courting the religious vote, but isn't this is going a little too far?

Ampersand from Alas, a Blog points out there are actually two sides to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

"From StopTheWall.org's FAQ, answering the question "why does the Israeli public support the building of the Wall?"

"The majority of the Israeli public has supported the Wall, following the pretext of “security”. The idea of unilateral separation appeals greatly to those in their society who do not want to admit or take responsibility for their government’s racist actions."

That's probably true. But, y'know, it's just barely possible that the idea of unilateral separation also appeals greatly to those in Israeli society who'd rather not be blown to fucking pieces on a bus by some anti-semitic moron with a martyr complex and an explosive belt!!!"

On another link, Ampersand points out that there are some large non-violent protest going on right now in Palestine:

"This is a general pattern I've noticed in press coverage of Palestine and Israel. If a single Palestinian terrorist murders a dozen Israelis, that gets press coverage all over (as it should). But when thousands protest peacefully, it's ignored. The result is to spread the myth that the Palestinian resistance consists of nothing but terrorism."

A correlating question I have: I understand a story on these protests is not as "sexy" as filming the carnage from another suicide bomber. But doesn't the dearth of coverage on these organized non-violent events make the press indirectly complicit in continuing terrorist attacks? By rewarding only the terrorists with coverage they ensure the bombings continue as a tactic.

BTW - have you noticed the little ads at the top of blogs with Blogger are gone? In their place is a little search tool that let me type in "Jib Jab" and go straight to my earlier post to grab the HTML for the link today. Waaay cool. I always hated guessing when I'd blogged on something and wading through the archives.

It also lets you go to the "next blog." Not sure how they know which one is next, but it's been sending a lot of people my way, some from very strange locations.
Jib Jab Update:

Ludlow Music has relinquished the fight to make Jib Jab pay for the rights to Woody Guthrie's "This Land" in their cool political spoof. In exchange, Jib Jab is agreeing to include a link to the original lyrics and "donate" 20% of their profits to the Woody Guthrie Foundation, according to the article. I take this to be simply either a nice gesture or a chance to avoid court costs on the part of the Jib Jab guys: as I blogged earlier, Woody basically lifted the song himself, and even if he hadn't, the 1945 song's copyright had run out when Ludlow failed to renew its registration in 1973 (the term back then was for 28 years).
Expanding Iowa's entertainment options - now you can join a militia. Secluded compound and wild-eyed messianic leader not included.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

This article just appeared in the Press-Citizen, stating that:

"A conservation officer with the Department of Natural Resources said criminal charges could be filed soon regarding a boating accident last month at Coralville Lake that killed a fourth-year University of Iowa medical student. . . .

While boating with friends on July 10, authorities said Hill fell from the boat at around 8:15 p.m. and was believed to have drowned. However, autopsy results show Hill died of “blunt and sharp-force injuries of his head and neck,” a clerk in the Johnson County Medical Examiner’s office said."

I first read this as implying an attack of some kind against Hill. But as I read more closely, this would also fit if the driver of the boat were intoxicated, as was Hill, and when the driver made too sharp a turn, Hill fell off the boat into the propellar. I guess we'll have to wait and see.


Yeah, it was OWI with a boat. But they carefully stated that the operator's level of intoxication had nothing to do with the death.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Meanwhile Wide-Eyed Insolence is back up - with vacation pictures. And Cornfield Commentary is now Hog Haven.
This is an illegal link according to the official Olympic hyperlink policy. If I get nabbed by the Greek police, you'll know what happened.
Another Iowa Blogger:

Greenman from Crap Flinging Monkey sets up his first blog. And pirates my link list. Cool! It should be an interesting addition to the great debate.
After the escape of two prisoners from Oakdale last year, the State has decided to reduce the staff. Yep. that's brains for you. Today's opinion piece in the DI points out that could be a bad idea, given the proximity to Highway 965 and the fact that one of the escaped prisoners was a murderer. I'd like to add that many of the convicted felons in Iowa (actually, I think all of them) go through there for classification into the appropriate prison. If I recall correctly, they also retain those prisoners a tad too mentally ill to play well with the other inmates for the duration of their sentences. Not exactly the kind of people I want jumping the fence and hitching a ride in the area.
Saw a similar bumper sticker on the way to work and had to giggle. I don't think they saw the implication. Or maybe I'm just weird. (Don't answer that, Pete.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

My mom has cancerous tumors all over her brain, metastasized from elsewhere, probably the lung. They're pressing on her brain and causing all sorts of entertaining neurological quirks.

We're waiting on the biopsy, but doctors seem to be talking in terms of "alleviating symptoms" rather than treatment. This isn't supposed to happen for another 20 years or so. I'm only in my thirties. Life pretty well sucks at the moment.

That said, I'll still be blogging, just more sporadically than usual. Got a small break today when the out of town relatives descended.

Say a prayer or two if you get the chance.

Space Monkey Leader laments the sparse dating scene from the male POV. The divorce papers were just filed in June, so I'm really not "out there" but let me tell you the view from this end doesn't look too pretty either. Though I'll have to use that buy-me-a-car line the next time I'm asked if I want to "hook up" by some drunk college freshman or middle aged burnout who still lives with his parents. It could be very entertaining. Maybe I'll start carrying a stopwatch?
An interesting observation on L-2 interviews at the Yin Blog.

I ended up going the prosecuting internship route myself. My friends were flying out for interviews in big city firms, while I made peanuts in Muscatine, Iowa.

But then, I was trying cases, not chained to a research room. Thank God.

Because frankly, it's the trial stuff I was good at anyway, and it gave me the confidence I needed to realize my skills were not inextricably tied to the almighty class rank. By the end of the summer I realized I'd never fit in the kind of firm that churns associates for the billable hour. Later I tried it . . . for about six months. I was right. If you can't be yourself in any job, you will eventually hate it no matter how well it pays.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

A legal mental note: No BB gun fights in the courthouse. I suppose next they'll outlaw bottle rocket wars?
The PC indicates that the Crowded Closet is almost back in business. They can use some donations, though. I loved the old store - you could find some treasures in there, and they had tons of great stuff for sale directly from craftspeople in 3rd world countries. I always raided the jewelry section.
Don at Tusk and Talon posts on the Governor's own "no child left behind" plan. Key quote:

"The Iowa Learns Council no doubt conducted a thorough, objective and open-minded study of the needs of Iowa’s pre-school children before deciding that it should go along with its mission statement that says,

“The Iowa Learns Council plans to work toward achieving two primary goals: that 90 percent of Iowa children will have a quality preschool experience, and 90 percent of Iowa high school graduates will complete at least two years of college.”

In other words, the ILC believes: 'Between two and twenty, 90 percent of your children belong in institutions.'"

I understand making day care available to parents who need it, but why promote it for those who don't? I'm moving out of the age range when people ask if I'll ever have kids (answer: don't hold your breath), but in response I'd always point to my work schedule. If I had to wake a kid up at 6:30 to drop him/her off at daycare by 7:30, pick him/her up again at 6:30, with a reasonable bed time of 9:00, I'd be spending a grand total of three and a half hours a day with the child. I don't think that would be enough to qualify it as "my" child, regardless of biology. I'm much better off getting a pet.

I understand many people can and do make this kind of thing work. But to make it a goal?
Not all insurance law is boring.

This case from the 2nd Circuit involved a clause in a life insurance policy, providing:

"that the insurer 'will not pay if loss is caused by ...intentionally self-inflicted injuries' and that a compensable loss 'must result directly and independently of all other causes from accidental bodily injury.'"

The issue of the case is the same as asked in many criminal assault cases: if the person intended to do the act, but didn't intend the result, is it an intentional injury/death?

The particular case involved autoerotic asphyxiation. The deceased had rigged up some kind of harness and pulley system to choke himself . . . He accidentally died of strangulation.

(On a side note: would that actually be considered a malfunction? I think of it more as operator error.)

The insurer argued, and the 2nd Circuit agreed, that this was an "intentionally self-inflicted injury." The "independent of all other causes" part of the policy bolsters the argument, as the intentional self-strangulation could at least be considered related in some way to the death, even if an argument could be made for an accident/operator error to be classified as some superceding cause. The fact that the decedent didn't intend to die from this strangulation may make the death an "accident" but it didn't sever the relationship between that accident and the admittedly intentional act of autoerotic asphyxiation that was the cause of death.

At least, that's what they held last year.

In a rehearing this year, the 2nd Circuit reversed itself in this opinion. They focus on death as the "injury", not the strangulation, and drawing the distinction between what the decedent wanted - strangulation stopping short of death - and what occurred. They pointed to the safety mechanisms employed by the decedent:

"Daniel had apparently been in the middle of an auto-erotic act. He was tied up in various places by cord, and these cords had evidently been attached to a set of counter weights which were meant to give him an "out" if he started to lose consciousness."

Law.com has an article analyzing the new opinion here.

I've got a hypothetical for them to consider: how do you compare this to a mentally ill person making a serious suicide gesture? They intended to act as though they were committing suicide, but it is arguable they didn't intend death.

Another thought: why would the policy say intentionally self-inflicted injuries are an excluded cause of death, rather than simply saying suicide or intentional death is excluded? I believe the drafters intended the distinction. In this case, the injury - asphyxiation - was intentional, it is simply the death that was not.

(NOTE: I realized after posting only half the thing went up. Added the rest. Sorry).

UPDATE: In reading a similar 9th Circuit case posted here, I realize that the intentionally self-inflicted injury clause is separate from the suicide clause, and both were included in the 9th Circuit policy. So why are the courts interpreting this so as to make the self-inflicted injury clause duplicative of the suicide clause? That kind of redundancy doesn't make sense to me.
This article in Newsday discusses the problems military women overseas are facing re: pregnancy and abortion. As far as I can tell:

1) 5 to 6 percent of Army women are pregnant at any given time.

2) Women stationed overseas are allowed access to birth control, but are told if it fails they would be given a "harsh punishment." No mention made on the guy being in trouble.

3) However, the guys might bear some responsibility here, other than the obvious "two to tango" - there were 1,012 reported sexual assaults of service members in 2003 and 901 in 2002:

"The Miles Foundation, which assists servicewomen and female military dependents who have been victims of violence and sexual assault, has handled 187 sexual assault cases involving soldiers stationed in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Bahrain, said Kate Summers, the foundation's director of victim services. It now is working with three servicewomen who were impregnated by the same senior officer in Kuwait, she said."

4) The focus of the article was on the fact these women have no access to an abortion: the same military hospitals that are allowed to give free boob jobs are prohibited from paying for abortions even in cases of rape.

My questions:

So what exactly are they doing about this? I'd imagine a pregnancy might be somewhat of a hinderance when running through the desert after an escaped terrorist. You've put them in the middle of nowhere, with no option to pop over to the nearest private-sector medical provider, and no plan for what might happen?

Were the 1,012 reported sexual assault victims told they'll face "harsh punishment" if a pregnancy results?

And in cases of consensual sex, are the men getting off (pun intended) scott-free? If we're going to have men and women serving together, shouldn't both sexes be treated the same?

I've not really been following the Scott Peterson trials, but did peek at an article this morning regarding the transcripts of the conversations with Amber Frey. Do we all sound this stupid when conversations are transcribed verbatim? I seriously hope not.

PETERSON: Different genres of movies.

FREY: Different like joggers?

PETERSON: Genres. Different types. Love story, a comedy, horror.


[He says his favorite movie is "The Shining."]

PETERSON: I've asked you the best movie ever made in your opinion.

FREY: European ... oh, in my opinion?

PETERSON: Your opinion, yes.

FREY: My opinion? Oh, you know, I don't know how the answer that honestly.

PETERSON: Okay, how about if I give you a genre?

FREY: What? What are you saying gen ... I still don't know what you're saying?

PETERSON: Genre? G-e-n-r-e?

FREY: Gen ...

PETERSON: It's a type of movie. Genre.

FREY: Okay, I've never heard that before.

PETERSON: Okay, it just means like different types.

FREY: Okay.

PETERSON: So if I gave you a romantic comedy, what would be the best or what would be your favorite in that genre?

FREY: Romantic comedy/ I don't know. I'd have to hear some examples cause I don't know what ... I don't know.

PETERSON: Hum? Okay. Uh ... romantic comedy.

FREY: "Pretty Woman," is that romantic comedy?

BTW, given her old look and the new, I'd say somebody had one helluva makeover.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Today's new Iowa Supreme Court decisions are posted here, and today's Court of Appeals decisions are posted here.

Not much to blog about, but:

Stupidity awards and other nonsense:

1) Yep. Leave your debit card number and PIN sitting out on the dresser in the room where you're having your strippers change into their "costumes" for your party. They won't touch it. Really.

2) When stopped with a car full of illegal drugs, it's important to remember to take the drugs with you when chased by the police. And leave your legs sticking out from under the car so they can find you. That way you can use the brilliant defense "Man, the pot was just, like, there when I crawled under the car."

3) When making a motion to exclude evidence, you might want to be efficient by remembering that the evidence rules allowing in "excited utterances" will probably cover statements made by a victim who was repeatedly stabbed in the face and chest to the 911 operator immediately after the stabbing. Don't waste your time, it doesn't get much more "excited" than that.

A friend emailed me this link to Ike Turner's Guide to Restoring America's Honor. Whether or not you agree with the analogy (I don't), it's a wicked little essay.
Inmates break out of the 110-year-old Red Oak jail using a toothbrush.

I think I have a suggestion on how to use some of the money earmarked for the fake rainforest in Coralville.
Glenn Reynolds has a Tech Central Station column up on those annoying registration pages for newspapers. Key quote:

"Take a look at those lists of information you collect: how many people have given their email as 'nobody@biteme.com', and do you have an implausibly large number of 97-year-old black women living in Alaska as readers? I'll bet you do."

I generally put myself down as a 100 year old male living at either 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in DC or 555 Main Street, Anytown. The white house idea came when the registration page for the Washington Post got cute and started actually checking whether the addresses being inputted were real. Yep, I'm now the prez, as far as they're concerned. Or maybe just a hot 100 year-old intern.

But there is hope:

Bug Me Not. You input the URL of the news service and it gives you a valid username and password. Cool - now I can get onto the London Times again, one of the worst of the worst. I absolutely refuse to buy a subscription simply to gain online access for a few stories.


D*mn it, the Times still expects a subscription. Oh well, back to the Guardian.
I suppose this is bound to happen every so often:

Twin brothers, both with records (prison time on a "home invasion" charge on one, something that requires sex offender registry on the other), have DNA that matches a semen sample from a 1999 rape case.

"Identical twins are born with identical DNA because they come from the same egg, but experts say the genetic material mutates from birth.

The mutations are so tiny, however, that standard police DNA tests can't find them.

A scientist from Boston said she believed she could detect the mutations, although it would take more than two years and she could not make any guarantees.

She offered to perform the tests, although she said it could cost at least $50,000. Other experts pegged the cost at $100,000 or more.

Authorities spoke with representatives of genetic scientists in Germany and Japan, but they could not provide a reliable test."

I suppose it's too late to thoroughly comb through any alibis? The article states both brothers were out and living in the area at the time, though they're both in jail now on unrelated charges.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Also via How Appealing:

10 Things Not To Say At A Supreme Court Oral Argument.

IMHO, #5 is the best.
A really cool article by Associate Justice William W. Bedsworth of California's Fourth District Court of Appeal was on How Appealing this morning, dealing with how the USDA standards can allow batter-coated french fries to be considered a vegetable, while their non-battered cousins cannot be. An excerpt:

"But I’m confident the USDA didn’t come to this conclusion rashly. After all, they studied it for three years before handing down the 'Batter-Coating Rule.' 9 And, as their lawyers argued to Judge Schell, 'It is still considered "fresh" because it is not preserved. It retains its perishable quality.'

To which I say, as, apparently, did Judge Schell, 'Huh? Oh. Sure, sure. Whatever. That sounds fine to me. Now, can you please hand me some of those onion rings?'"

Monday, August 09, 2004

Today's Bleat discusses a book I read a few months ago called "Devil in the White City." It's a fascinating book about serial killer H. H. Holmes and the creation of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. The author had to have put in about a million hours of research about the period, the murders, and the incredible logistics involved with building the World's Fair in the first place. It really pays off.

My favorite reads are those that offer what I call a painless education. A good example in novel form is "The Alienist" by Caleb Carr, a best seller from a few years ago. It's got some graphic violence, but if you can stomach it, the history of forensics, psychiatry, and legal issues such as the McNaughten Rule are all outlined in detail while not distracting from an absorbing plot. (I haven't found his subsequent novels as good, though, because they don't seem to be quite as well researched).
The Register has an article about a break in a two-year-old Cedar Rapids rape case:

"A man accused of sexual assault allegedly told the assault victim that he broke into her house two years ago because it was the only one with the lights on. Police say Anthony Hollen, 34, broke into the woman's home, tied her up and sexually assaulted her Nov. 18, 2002. He is awaiting trial on first-degree kidnapping and first-degree burglary charges that could put him in prison for life. . . .

The woman, who is now 37, was alone in the house taking a shower that morning when she heard two loud bangs, apparently the sound of someone breaking into her back door. A man, wearing a black ski mask with holes for the eyes and the mouth, entered her bathroom. He had a knife, the woman said, and he tied her hands together and took her to the basement."

I can't tell you how much these stories sometimes creep me out.

If only she'd kept her lights off. If only she'd had someone else home. If only she'd heard the door open.

These thoughts flash involuntarily across your mind as you assimilate the information under the vast category of "things I can do to keep from being raped someday":

Don't walk around at night.

Don't accept drinks/rides from strangers or casual acquaintances. Don't leave a ground-floor window unlocked.

Don't wear anything too provocative.

Don't look like a target.

Don't forget your basic self-defense tactics.

Then you realize there really isn't too much you can do. You can't live your entire life on guard. It could all turn very ugly very quickly, and it won't be your fault. But you'll still wonder what would have happened if you had gone to bed instead of taking that shower.
The NY Times has an interesting article about the Bush campaign seeking to rally conservative churches and their members.

(NOTE: Registration is required - use "randommentality" as the username and "password" as the password, if you don't already have one.)

According to the article, the Bush campaign "has asked 'people of faith team leaders' to help identify thousands of "friendly congregations" around the country. It asked religious outreach volunteers to petition their pastors to hold voter registration drives, and to speak on behalf of the campaign to Bible studies and church groups. . . .

As about 500 people gathered for the 5 p.m. Saturday Mass at the St. Peter Parish Church in St. Charles, his appeals appeared to fall on fertile ground. The Rev. John J. Ghio included a prayer for "reverence for all human life from conception" in the service. A Catholic voting guide in the program noted that Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of the Archdiocese of St. Louis has said it is a sin to vote for candidates who support abortion rights, a group that includes Senator John Kerry. The guide listed "non-negotiable" issues of abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, human cloning and same-sex marriage.

"I don't know how a Catholic in good conscience could vote for a candidate who was pro abortion," Father Ghio said after the service."

Just to play devil's advocate, pun intended, I feel obligated to point out here that not everyone who is pro-choice is pro-abortion. It is possible to feel quite strongly that abortions should be functionally eliminated by providing the education, social services, and financial support necessary to allow for women with an unwanted pregnancy to choose adoption and/or keeping the child, without supporting legislation that puts these same women at risk for criminal prosecution or prison. Some of these people actually get out and do something to help, like funding women's shelters and aid for the needy. Can't they be considered "good Catholics" if they chose to support Kerry based on his pro-choice position?

What about people who are pro-life in every sense, want a constitutional amendment criminalizing it as murder, but also feel strongly against military action due to religious beliefs, and choose to weigh the balance of their vote in favor of stopping the war first and dealing with the pro-life issue later? You can disagree with their beliefs, but does it make any of them a "bad" (insert religious denomination of your choice)?

The article points to quotes by "team leaders" at a prayer breakfast in a St. Louis suburbian Assembly of God church:

"'He has proven that he will do what is right, and he will look to God first.' . . . 'Don't you feel it is a spiritual battle?'"

Are they implying John Kerry is in league with the antichrist? I mean, he does look a little like Lurch, but I don't think he exactly lights little black candles in chalk pentagrams in the back of the campaign train.

I've no problem with the church discussing social issues, it is after all there to provide guidance to parishoners on how to lead their lives in compliance with the religious beliefs of the faith. But choosing a candidate is a complex balancing process, and attempts to enforce conformity at the polls by religious leaders generally annoy me. It's hard enough to get voters to independently analyze the issues without either side resorting to "God wants you to vote for me."

I don't put it past politicians to try just about every trick while cruising along the campaign trail, but I'm disappointed in the churches that choose to go along for the ride.

Stupid internet policies #29847:

In cruising the blogs, I note Instapundit's link to Blawg Wisdom -

"STARTING LAW SCHOOL IN THE FALL? Blawg Wisdom has collected all sorts of links and helpful advice."

I figure I'll check it out and link it, if it contains stuff that would've helped me - the "if only I'd known" type of material. So I click the hyperlink and up pops the window:

Adult content??? I know law school can be a bit rowdy, but geez. The internet nazis are taking their jobs a little too seriously.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

I caught last night's showing of Psycho Beach Party, and it was quite cool. The cast was phenomenal and the script is hilarious. I understand Friday night's performance was sold out, and Saturday's was nearly so, so you might want to catch this one next weekend before it's gone. Go to the City Circle Website to get more info on tickets and times.

Friday, August 06, 2004

First we have Michael Moore, independent of the Democratic party, doing Fahrenheit 9/11 in a bid to oust Bush. It's an editorial in the form of a movie, and as such is inherently biased, but not illegitimate. You can debate the points of the movie forever, but it was within his rights to make it. Next, we have a commercial aired by "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" in a bid to defeat Kerry, again independent of the Republican party. It's a commercial, and inherently biased, but again not illegitimate and within their rights to make it.

Then the lawyers step in, according to Instapundit.

I think you can't implicitly condone Moore's opinion piece and simultaneously try to stifle the oppositions'. Yes, each has shaded the truth to one extent or another, depending on your point of view. But both sides of the political spectrum are feeding us phenomenal amounts of crap these days. Either resolve to play nicely together, or to give as good as you get. You can't have it both ways.


That being said, I haven't seen the ad. I just read something here about a potentially false affidavit that Kerry had shot someone in the back. While I know each side has shaded things and included opinion/conspiracy theory/innuendo as "fact," if this ad turns out to have included flat-out lies, particularly about such a hot subject as that one, it will come back to bite the sponsors (and anyone implicitly condoning them).


Don posts this news flash at Tusk and Talon.
The Press Citizen has an article against scrapping the driving simulator just because it costs us too much - like $1.3 million dollars too much, due to "unforeseen" circumstances:

"Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, a lot of private research dollars vanished. . .Meanwhile, as state governments across the nation cut spending on higher education, universities increasingly turn to external funding for dollars, creating intense grant competition -- competition that wasn't anticipated when the facility was proposed and constructed."

Why do I get the feeling that they should save this document with fill-in fields, so it can be used again when the proposed fake rainforest in Coralville is added to the list?
Took the Bush and Kerry loyalty tests I saw on the Yin Blog. It is Friday, after all. Apparently, I have no loyalty:

Your score is 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. You think Bush has some redeeming attributes, but generally speaking you are not a fan. You may have supported him at one point, but now you have misgivings about the job he has done as president. There's a chance you could bring yourself to vote for him, but at this point you are leaning against him.

Your score is 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. You believe that John Kerry has some redeeming qualities, but not enough to entrust him with running the country, much less the nuclear launch codes. It's possible that you might change your mind about him, but at this point, you are leaning against him.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

It's the perks, stupid . . .

If anyone wonders why a sane person would run for the presidency, check out the list of gifts the Bush family received in 2003 alone, posted on The Smoking Gun. Dang, if that's what a president that "the world hates" gets, what does one that's loved rake in?
British judges can sit part-time in scheme to attract women.

Sounds like an interesting dating service?
After viewing Fahrenheit 9/11 I made a mental note to look up the number of legislators with kids in the military and compare it to the population at large.

(I thought the "sign your kid up for the army" was an effective bit, but not a supportable argument on the war one way or another because no one can actually enlist another person).

Someone has done the numbers already:

Seven out of 535 congresspersons have sons or daughters in the military at the present time.

According to the census bureau,

there are around 130 million people in the 40 to 79 age group.

These are people statistically likely to have kids in military service range. I don't know how many congressional types have kids that fall into military service ages, so for the sake of argument I'll presume they all do.

Given that there are about 2.7 million active military personnel(armed forces and national guard).

Five of the seven of these congressional children is serving in Iraq. There are 112,000 troops in Iraq. So the ratio of congresspersons with kinds in Iraq is 5/535 or about 1/107. The ratio of total 40-79 year-olds to troops is 112,000/130,000,000 or about 1/1,160.

Now, that doesn't address Moore's issue about the disproportionately large service on the part of low income individuals. The rates of service per parent in Flint (his sample area, being his hometown) may well be larger than the congresssional kids'. If anyone gets those numbers, I'll post an update.

But it does undercut the idea that congressional kids are somehow dodging their responsibility to sign up for the military or be sent to Iraq, as opposed to the average American.

Could this explain a lot about Israeli foreign policy?

UPDATE: Fixed the link. Sorry!!!!
According to the Register, Iowa is considered a battleground state that both Kerry and Bush are eager to win over.

If that's the case, will someone please tell them we're not idiots? They apparently think we perform bizarre corn rituals to appease the prairie gods:

"Competing for votes in corn-growing Iowa, John Kerry waved to crowds with one ear in each hand. Not to be outdone by his Democratic rival, President Bush ate one raw."

I love to see what they'll come up with for New Mexico.

(Hat tip State 29).
D'oh" alert:

From this Register piece on the Kerry/Bush dueling fundraisers in Davenport:

"Gov. Tom Vilsack called Davenport "the safest city in America" as Secret Service for both candidates blanketed the downtown and police provided extra security."

Oh, really?

According to the Press-Citizen Kirk Ferentz just doesn't have a clue. Key quotes:

"Ferentz indicated that he thinks some people have used the controversy for their personal gain. He wondered why there was no backlash when The Daily Iowan published a similar story about students living in subsidized housing in 1994.

"The fairness of it, I guess, would be my question," Ferentz said.

"Somebody gave me a copy of an article written in October of 1994 in The Daily Iowan. It was basically the same article.

"So I was interested that some of the people took note this time. I was curious as to their interest 10 years ago. Without naming any names, I thought maybe an individual or two tried to cash in on an opportunity."

Ferentz said he thinks the issue should be resolved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

He also said that his son did nothing wrong, that he lives on a limited budget and that he receives no preferential treatment."

Yep, it's a conspiracy. It has nothing to do with the fact you're a millionare and have no problem with your son stealing housing from low-income families.

I've actually liked the guy as a coach, but this is just infuriating. Admit the kid was wrong for doing it, even if it is legal. Admit you should've guided him better as a parent, and apologize. The rest of us have to do it from time to time. It won't kill you.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I'll be away from the computer most of the day, and might not get to post much. Unless I get a sudden attack of verbosity in need of an outlet. . . .

Monday, August 02, 2004

This explains some things?

The subjects " . . . rushed through the courtship . . . which the females did not find attractive. The altered males essentially try to do everything at once. . ."

Also from Instapundit: non-legal synopsis of the Alabama dildo case:

"Most of the Alabama legislature is made up of men. Just who are they protecting here? It's a pretty sad state of affairs when the men folk have to get together and pass laws to keep their women from utilizing alternative methods for sexual gratification. What do you Alabama studs need? Lessons?"

Drinking half a bottle of wine a day makes women smarter. Why didn't they tell me that in law school? Hey, I'm only looking out for my mental health.

BTW, why do I get the feeling this study was sponsored by some secret society entirely populated by the kind of guy who sends drinks over with his phone number on the napkin?

Saw it on Instapundit (not that he needs the link).
Ve haf vays of making you vote. . .

I agree it's important to encourage people to vote, but do we really need the cost and expense of setting up a government office enforcing a fine if you don't? And if people are truly disinterested, is that so immoral that we want to fine them? Do we really want them voting anyway, if they are unaware of the issues and people involved? I'd argue a disinformed vote is actually worse than no vote at all.