Monday, January 31, 2005

More Englert Controversy

State 29 gave me a heads up on Eric Kerchner's letter to the Press Citizen in response to Dweeze's letter. Here's the two in tandem:

David's Letter:
It’s sad, and telling, that Mr. Kershner considers Leo Kottke to be the perfect Englert show. Considering the number of people in the Iowa City area who donated time and money under the assumption that the Englert would be a community performance space, I imagine there are far more people in the area that would consider the perfect Englert show to be one involving any of the area musicians, dancers, actors, singers, and others that the Englert Board promised would be performing at the facility.

David Pierce
Past President, Iowa City Community Theatre

Public enthused over new Englert

I've not been in Iowa City that long, but many people have voiced their opinion to me on the renovation, the current programming and the future plans for the organization. I take every comment seriously and consider them fully. I also take very personally the success or failure of the theater in any aspect. I must say that the overwhelming sentiment from the public has been not just positive, but solidly so.

David Pierce's letter ("A more perfect Englert show," Jan. 25) strikes me as a bit misinformed, but perhaps this comes from having never attended a performance in the Englert, that I am aware of. He missed some great events from local groups such as the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce Symposium, the Iowa City Community Band Concert and Englert Night Out, which featured more than 10 different area groups of all kinds and ended with a wonderful concert by local musician Dave Moore. The Englert produced this entire event.

Leo Kottke is a national performer with strong ties to Iowa, and it was an honor to have him perform on our stage. Kottke's performance was a great event for the theater, and I believe the 725 audience members who attended this sold-out performance would agree.

Eric Kerchner
director, Englert Theatre
Iowa City

Okay, let's take the germaine points and dissect them:

David Pierce's letter ("A more perfect Englert show," Jan. 25) strikes me as a bit misinformed, but perhaps this comes from having never attended a performance in the Englert, that I am aware of. He missed some great events from local groups such as the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce Symposium, the Iowa City Community Band Concert and Englert Night Out, which featured more than 10 different area groups of all kinds and ended with a wonderful concert by local musician Dave Moore. The Englert produced this entire event.

Kerchner begins with a nice personal swipe at David for not attending the Englert events. I guess he must not understand the concept of a boycott?

Moving on, there are three events here that are being discussed. To take the last first: the Englert night out is a fundraising event for the Englert Theatre. Local groups could perform in it, including ICCT, because we donated our time and services to profit the Englert. This despite the way we've been treated by the Englert and Kerchner in particular. In other words, he's using our own generosity as an argument against us. Nice.

Regarding the other two events, I've no doubt that they occurred. Not being privy to negotiations between the Englert and these organizations, nor being involved with these events, I'm left to extrapolate as to thei similarity of these events to the local theater that David wrote about.

The first was a Chamber of Commerce leadership seminar. Woo hoo. I don't doubt that the organization, which is a thriving one with most local businesses as members, would be able to meet the rental fees. That doesn't negate the point that they're set far too high for any local theater in the Iowa City Coralville area. I mean, look at an excerpt from a story on their Gift Certificate Program: "Since 1999, $1.2 million to $1.3 million a year, or approximately 40,000 gift certificates with an average value of $30 to $35 each, has been generated at Coral Ridge Mall." $1.3 million per year? Let's just say we don't have anything close to that in the Iowa City Community Theatre budget.

The other was a Community Band concert. I have no information on the event, but at a $5 ticket price I would venture to assert that either they were operating at a loss, got considerable additional donations from attendees, or theydidn't have to pay the full non-profit rates.

The Englert proposal from ICCT is being signed by the board members, and I still can't comment about what it is and what's in it. I do understand the frustration of the donors to the Englert project, who feel as though they've been deceived. I still hold out hope that the Englert and local theater companies will come to an affordable agreement, and one that allows the Englert to make good on it's promise that ICCT would have "resident theater" status.

I am not hopeful so long as Eric Kerchner remains their official representative. I have typed out various reasons why off and on for the past hour, but I keep having to delete them as I don't want to say too much before the negotiations are concluded. Let's just say there's way more egregious stuff here than is getting out, even on the blogs.

Can Evil be Funny?

IowaHawk excels at writing the evil type of post that makes you wonder why you're laughing.

More Pokerblogen

I at least have a minimal new post up on Saturday's games. I vaguely recall Saturday. . .

Blog v. MSM Smackdown

Editor and Publisher has this article regarding an ongoing feud between the bloggers at Powerline and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Relevant quotes:

If you don't believe that bloggers are giving newspapers a headache, talk to Nick Coleman. A veteran newspaper columnist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Coleman is in the middle of an old-fashioned feud with one of the leading conservative Web logs in the country.

So far, his battle with — Time magazine's "blog of the year" — has sparked an anger-spewing column by Coleman, an ombudsman's clarification, and a threat by a leading bank to pull advertising from the newspaper. . . .

So is this the future of blog-newspaper relations in 2005 and beyond? According to Coleman, yes, and not in a good way. He says traditional news outlets need to keep tabs on the blogs and shoot back when necessary. "Editors and writers in mainstream media are very naive," he says. "Readership and power of the blogs is increasing." He also claims that the blogs are dangerous because they are not under the same ethical restrictions as mainstream media and seek to stay on the attack, facts be damned. He contends "the mainstream media is under assault."

But Powerline's Hinderaker argues that blogs are actually more accountable because they receive immediate reaction from readers and can be criticized by other blogs, many of which are read by the same people. "Mainstream media doesn't have the checks and balances you have on a blog," he says. "If a blogger makes a mistake, the e-mail is packed with responses and other bloggers jump on it. Newspapers don't have the same relationship with their readers."

Johnson, his colleague, agrees, adding that the growing blog power is good for the news consumer. "I think we have had a very productive interaction with mainstream media and they are paying attention," he says. "I think Nick Coleman's attitude reflects more on him than us."

For ombud Parry, both sides should be warned to be careful dealing with the effects of blog-newsprint battles. "I have yet to find anywhere in the mainstream media anyone who really has a handle on bloggers," she asserts. "We are dealing with a relatively new phenomenon."

Greenman points out an article with an opposing view:this article in Slate entitled "Blog Overkill - the danger of hyping a good thing into the ground." Relevant quotes:

"Memories of the video guerrillas percolated to my forebrain last Friday while I attended the "Blogging, Journalism, and Credibility" conference at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Many of the speakers, such as New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen and tech wizard/Ur blogger Dave Winer, echoed Shamberg's fervor as they testified to the socially transformative power of blogs. A blogswarm of amateurs, they proclaimed, is breaking the professionals' hold on the press. There's a major power shift going on, Rosen stated, tilting toward users and away from the established media.

In language only slightly less fervent than Shamberg's, conference participants declared blogs the destroyers of mainstream media. (See this page and this page for a real-time transcription of the conference.) Others prescribed blogs as the medicine the newspaper industry should take to reclaim its lost readers: Publishers should support reader blogs and encourage their reporters to blog in addition to writing stories. Podcasts would undermine the radio network empires. "Open source" journalism, in which readers and bloggers help set the news agenda for newspapers, was promoted as a tonic for what ails the press. Reporters were encouraged to regain the lost trust of readers by blogging drafts of their stories, their notes, and even their taped interviews so other bloggers could dissect and analyze them for fairness. . . .

With the exception of the "metro" section reporter covering a 12-car pile-up on the freeway, I think most practicing journalists today are as Webby as any blogger you care to name. Journalists have had access to broadband connections for longer than most civilians, and nearly every story they tackle begins with a Web dump of essential information from Google or a proprietary database such as Nexis or Factiva. They conduct interviews via e-mail, download official documents from .gov sites, check facts, and monitor the competition—including blogs—the whole while. A few even store as a "favorite" the URL from Technorati that takes them directly to what the blogs are saying about them (here's mine) and talk back. When every story starts on the Web, and every story can be stripped to its digital bits and pumped through wires and over the air, we're all Web journalists.

The premature triumphalism of some bloggers indicates that they haven't paid attention to how Webified journalists have become. They also ignore media history. New media technologies almost never replace old media technologies, they merely force old technologies to adapt and find new ways to connect with their audiences. Radio killed the "special edition," but newspapers survived. When television dethroned radio as the hearthside infobox and cratered the Hollywood box office, radio became a mobile medium, and Hollywood devoted itself to spectaculars that the tiny TV set couldn't adequately display. The competitive spiral has continued, with cable TV, VCRs and DVDs, satellite TV and radio broadcasters, and now Internet broadcasters entering the fray. The only extinct mass medium that I can think of is the movie house newsreel."

As usual, neither the "blogs are just a blip on the radar" nor the "blogs are a revolution that will destroy MSM" viewpoints ring true to me. Blogs will change media, and it is obvious to me that many people in the mainstream press aren't fond of the idea that 'guys in pajamas', no matter how well-educated, can effectively criticize the press. But change does not equal destruction, only mutation. C'mon guys. There's plenty of room on the big soapbox for everybody.

Everyone has Their Opinion

The Chicago Tribune (registration required - use "random" and "password) features a stupid solution to a nitpicky problem:

Everyone knows he or she should mind his or her grammar.

Everyone also knows saying "he or she" and "his or her" makes a simple sentence somewhat tedious and self-consciously politically correct, but it is considered archaic and sexist to use only masculine pronouns.

Saying "everyone knows that they should mind" is widely considered a grammatical error because "everyone" is singular and "they" is plural -- they don't match. Saying "one should mind one's grammar " is considered stuffy and impersonal. Saying "all people know that they" is overstating the case -- "everyone knows" usually means conventional wisdom, not universal knowledge.

Enter Dr. Richard Neal, author of the book "The Definitive Solution to the Problem of Sexist Language: How and Why It Is Solved" (Sense & Reason, 50 pages, $11.50). In 2003, Neal applied for a patent for his plan to replace the words "him," "his" and "her" with the word "hir" (which he pronounces as "here"), as well as "hesh" (pronounced "heesh") for "he" and "she" and "wan" for "man" and "woman." Neal's application, which is still pending, was posted last month at the Web site of the U.S. patent office (

Hesh? Wan? Hir? You must be joking. You want this level of change from a nation that's been in the process of converting to the metric system for the past forty years? And metrics aren't even silly. Hir, on the other hand. . .

Why not just trash the d*mn rule that "their" can't be singular? Everybody uses it like that anyway, at least when they're not being graded for grammar. Even linguists agree:

The simplest solution to the problem of finding an epicene singular pronoun, linguists say, is already in the language -- use "they." A singular "they" is nothing new. Writing at the Random House Web site, Jesse Sheidlower, North American editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, pointed out that many reputable writers used the singular "they." Shakespeare wrote in "Much Ado About Nothing," "God send every one their heart's desire!" The King James Bible translated Matthew 18:35 as, "If ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses . . . "

Linguist Henry Churchyard lists these and other samples on his Web site (, including 75 citations from the works of Jane Austen. "Singular `their' (etc.) is not an innovation, but old established good usage," Churchyard writes. "So here anti-sexism and traditional English usage go hand-in-hand."

Sheidlower adds that the singular "they" should be no more objectionable than the singular "you."

English used to reserve "you" and "your" for plurals, and used "thou," "thy" and "thee" for the singular. But "thou" and the others dropped out, and "you" started pulling double duty. Eventually, "they" could, too, and "he or she" will be as old-fashioned as "thou."

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Here I am, blissfully blogging away, and I didn't even notice that my one-year blogoversary has come and gone. If this were a relationship, I would've been dumped.

It's odd to think all that's gone on in the past 12 months. When I started this blog, I had no idea what HTML was or how it worked. I was sitting around one day, bored. I was all caught up at work, married, and had no real major problems that I was aware of other than making bills and figuring out what to do next. I had about three lines in the second play I'd ever been in since around high school. I'd been playing around with the idea of blogging, but had no idea how to start. Typically, I just decided I wanted to do it and plunged right in, right-clicking away, copying and pasting code from other sites, and generally trying to figure out what the h*ll was going on. My first "is this thing on" post was on January 9th of 2004:

One small step into the blogoverse. . .

Not incredibly original, and I only had one other post for the entire month, but it was a start. I don't think I even told anyone I had a blog for a few months, I had no way of knowing if anyone ever read anything I wrote, it was just shouting into a black void and hoping for any response, even an echo.

Fast-forwarding is an exercise in contrast. My marriage ended in March when I found out I'd actually had quite a few more problems than I'd realized, culminating in a final divorce decree in October after the mandatory six-month waiting period. It was my decision, and I do not regret it one bit, but going from nine years of marriage to suddenly single has been, shall we say, an adventure?

It's been quite a year for family sagas as well. My mother has passed away from lung cancer, and my father has a terminal diagnosis from the same, though with prayer and a lot of hope we're believing he can beat this and be with us longer than the year the hospital powers-that-be have predicted. We've also lost my aunt Candy, but my grandmother did make it through her broken hip and is recuperating at home. With difficult financial challenges, trying to sell the family home, and the stress of so many losses, it's been a trying time at best.

On the more positive side, my sister managed to get married. Congratulations again, Karie! I've been elected to the board for Iowa City Community Theatre, who also awarded me "newcomer of the year." I am gearing up for the lead in Hedda Gabler, my eighth post-high-school play. I still live in the same place, only for the lack of finding a buyer (anybody want a three bedroom house in the country?), but with any luck I'll be moving to Iowa City this spring or summer.

I also blog regularly - actually, probably far too much. But I can count among the many friends I've made this year a number of people online who I've never actually seen (and won't any time soon unless we can figure out a way to end tech early on the 26th and go to the Blogger Bash). I'd link everyone again, but I'd end up with an entire paragraph of solid blue, and you all know how to find the sidebar. Also, as of last Friday, my sitemeter has counted over 10,000 visitors to this little corner of the blogosphere. Of course, the same 15 people probably make up half that, but I'll take what I can get. I've even joined two group blogs, the poker-oriented Are You Going to Let Him Push You Around Like That? and the Iowa PorkForest. Of course, I haven't even added AYGTLHPYALT (h*ll, it's even long as an acronym) to my blogrolls yet . . .

I'm going to join the rest of my friends in deciding that 2005 has got to be better. If it's true that what goes around comes around, I should be in for a fair number of good surprises this year. Now that I've got the hang of blogging, I'll share as things pop up. But for now, I must stop procrastinating and clean my house, and work on my lines. I'm due for poker tonight.

Friday, January 28, 2005

4 out of 5 Dentists Surveyed. . .

A tribute to the decisiveness of the "expert opinion" -

Via Wonkette. Her comment: "Experts Agree: Bin Laden Not a Ham Sandwich." Quote from the original source: "This does rule out the terrifying possibility of an unkillable zombie Bin Laden."


The Register posts the route. It's in the north, so it should be generally flatter and perhaps a little cooler temp-wise? I really should do this one of these days.

Will Kenyon

State 29 posts from his parent's talk at the memorial. Make sure you're in a private space - it will make you cry.

Iowa Supreme Court Opinions

have been posted today.

State v. Griffin underscores the premise outlined earlier in State v. Myers: "A search incident to lawful arrest is legal even if the arresting officer had an ulterior motive for the arrest or had no independent probable cause to conduct the search."

GreatAmerica Leasing Corp. v. Cool Comfort Air Conditioning, Inc. illustrates that indigent defense counsel aren't paid crap in Iowa.


GreatAmerica Leasing Corporation sued Cool Comfort Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Inc., after Cool Comfort breached a lease for a telephone system. GreatAmerica was partially successful in the suit and obtained a judgment against Cool Comfort for a little less than $17,000. . . . Pursuant to a fee-shifting clause in the parties’ written contract, GreatAmerica asked the district court to require Cool Comfort to reimburse it approximately $35,000 for attorney fees it had expended in the suit. This request included about $5000 in litigation expenses for paralegal work. In support of its motion, GreatAmerica attached a copy of a bill it had received from its law firm. The bill indicated the firm had charged GreatAmerica $80 per hour for paralegal work.


The trial court reduced the paralegal fees to $50 per hour, because it was "troubled that regular, licensed attorneys defending felony defendants in criminal cases in Iowa are paid only $50 an hour for what can be more complex litigation [that requires] a license to practice law with substantial trial ability and experience. In this court’s view, a paralegal fee assessed against another party should not exceed what the State of Iowa pays for indigent defense."


"Although there is a blush of fairness in the district court’s logic that paralegals should not earn more than attorneys, this analysis ignores the fact that the markets for criminal defense attorneys and paralegals in civil litigation are different. To the extent the district court adopted a per se rule capping all pay for paralegals at $50 per hour, the court abused its discretion. Iowa Code section 625.22 contains no such requirement, and to the extent the district court invented one its ruling was based on untenable grounds. Such a fixed policy is the antithesis of discretionary decision-making. . . . The appropriate remedy is to reverse and remand for “a fresh consideration” of a reasonable attorney fee. . . . On remand, the court shall look at the whole picture and determine a reasonable amount for GreatAmerica’s litigation expenses.

Patience is One Thing. . .

But then there's the ridiculous. From the headline, I thought I'd agree with this article:

Be happy with gradual fitness changes

I lost a bit of weight a while back, and I'd had to keep slogging away at it for three months before I saw any movement on the scale. I understood on a mental level that I was replacing fat with muscle and would see movement after that process. But it was still tough.

I did agree with most of the points in the article: eat less, exercise more, fit it into your routine and make it a lifestyle rather than a "diet." But then I got to this (emphasis mine):

Several years ago, some colleagues vowed to lose weight. They did as many people do: They went on diets and joined a fitness club. I admired the ap-proach and their determination. Many people lose weight that way. But it didn't work for them because they couldn't fit it into their lifestyle. I sought to lose weight then, too, and I did. I walked every day before going to work and loved it. It took me a year, but I lost 10 pounds, which I kept off until I had kids.

Losing only .8333 pounds per month would still have me on my last diet, which technically ended in December of 2003. Nobody is that patient.

That Explains Things

Peter Beinart has an editorial in the Press-Citizen regarding the caucus system in Iowa. He quotes Howard Dean:

"If you look at the caucuses system," he said, "they are dominated by the special interests in both parties. The special interests don't represent the centrist tendencies of the American people. They represent the extremes."

Without even stopping to ponder who exactly Howard Dean would consider extreme, I'll just state that I agree with the premise, for reasons I'll outline later.

Beinart claims that the caucuses influenced the Democratic party to be more anti-war than it naturally would have been. He blames this on Howard Dean's having taken Iowa by storm, and other candidate's feeling obliged to follow Dean's anti-war lead. He claims that Dean showed well because of extremists, fostered by Iowa's peace-loving culture and problems inherent in the caucus which amplify the party's dovish, activist base.

"Although spawned by re-forms aimed at making the nominating system more democratic, the Iowa caucuses aren't that democratic at all. In a primary, people can vote all day. But in Iowa, you must arrive at your precinct caucus site at exactly 6:30 p.m. and stay for several hours, which virtually bars people who work at night. There are no absentee ballots, and voting is not secret -- people often raise their hands to show whom they support."

I agree the caucus system does tend to skew results toward the extremes of each party. But it has nothing to do with Iowa's culture, or a secret vs. open ballot. You know why very few people other than extremists go to caucuses?

I do. I've been to a couple, and I'd personally rather have my fingernails ripped out with hot tweezers than go to another.

You don't just show up, vote for your candidate, and go home. Nope. You get to propose platform planks to send to up the ranks of the party. These planks are voted on at the county, precinct, and state level, etc., until they become the official platform of your party in Iowa. The political process in action.

Sounds cool, until you take into account the type of people who want to come out and debate platform planks with six strangers in somebody else's apartment. Extremists. People straight out of Monty Python:

Gumby (standing in water) I would put a tax on all people who stand in water ... (looks round him)... Oh!

Man In Bowler Hat To boost the British economy I'd tax all foreigners living abroad.

Man In Suit I would tax the nude in my bed. No - not tax. What is the word? Oh - 'welcome'.

It's Man I would tax Racquel Welch. I've a feeling she'd tax me.

First Business Man Bring back hanging and go into rope.

Second Business Man I would cut off the more disreputable parts of the body and use the space for playing fields.

Man In Cap I would tax holiday snaps.

You get to sit around and debate ideas for obscure laws with these lunatics for as long as they like before they let you vote for your candidate.

It's bizarre ritual combination of cruel and unusual punishment, false imprisonment, and high school detention. Outside of extremists, who appear to thrive on it, few people can endure this type of treatment.

That's why the caucus system will generally engender the type of candidates the loonies love. You don't need to move the primaries, have absentee ballots, or even secret voting. You just need to change the system so that people can cast a ballot for a candidate, and then be able to leave before the loonies get them. Then you can let the loonies stay and debate to their heart's content. Of course, they'll still come up with all sorts lovely, elaborate platform planks that the rest of us will eventually see unveiled at the state level and wonder "what the h*ll were they thinking?" But at least you'll get a vaguely representative primary vote.

Protist Porn

Giardia's sex life revealed.

"Despite more than a century of study, they were not known to have sex. . . ."

"What I would like to know in further studies is if the presence of these genes indicates meiotic sex or premeiotic parasex, in which many of the same genes might be used," Zolan told The Scientist.

"The genes and tools we used here will be critical for ascertaining the sexual status of such an organism," Logsdon said.

I've got about sixteen beavis-and-butthead-type jokes running around in my head right now, but I think it best I refrain from inflicting them on anyone else. It's bad enough I wrote the post.

Somebody has been waiting

to use this headline.

via Dave Barry.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Case of the Roving Recorder, et al.

The new Iowa Court of Appeals decisions were posted yesterday. Some items I noted:

STATE v. CHRISTY was yet another attempt to find a loophole in OWI prosecutions: a claim by defense counsel regarding the certification that the machines were in working order was improper. The certificate was signed as "reviewed by" James Bleskacek and had a line for "lab analyst" Robert Monserrate. Basically, Bleskacek examined the machine and Monserrate signed off on the report. Both analysts had passed training that qualified them to certify the machines.

Defense first objected to the admission of the analyst's training certificates as hearsay. Apparently the prosecution hadn't made a proper foundation for the exception for documents in the ordinary course of business. However, as the court pointed out, this was harmless error because the analysts themselves were there and testified about their training.

The defense then tried to claim that the certification on the machines was improper because: 1) Monserrate hadn't personally examined the machine, and 2) The exam was done on-site at the station instead of trucking the machine back to Des Moines DCI lab. The court found neither of these very compelling either.

Finally - and this is my favorite - defense alleged that their client's rights to “be confronted with the witnesses against him” were violated when “Monserrate falsely portray[ed] himself as the laboratory analyst” who examined the DataMaster devices at issue, because “[t]he original certificates give no indication that anyone other than Mr. Monserrate examined the instruments in question,” preventing defense counsel from recognizing “the need to compel Mr. Bleskacek’s presence at trial.” In response, the Court of Appeals politely points out that Bleskacek was at trial and the defense did cross-examine him quite vigorously, so it's not quite sure why defense feels it didn't confront him adequately.

(Perhaps they wanted little boxing gloves?)


KOSTMAN v. STATE involved a long-shot ineffective assistance of counsel claim: the defense had tried to suppress their client's confession to the acts which supported his conviction for lacivious acts with a child as a habitual offender and sexual predator. They called Dr. Dan Rogers, a court-appointed psychologist, to testify that the defendant was easily led, that he had relatively low verbal I.Q. and was essentially unable to read, making it unlikely he could have understood the Miranda warnings. The trial court denied the motion, and the trial went forward. The defendant was convicted, and appealed based on ineffective assistance of counsel because his defense team failed to call Rogers at trial. (NOTE: who has a defense "team" in Iowa? Do we look like Johnny Cochran lives here?) Of course, as the Court of Appeals pointed out, if counsel had called Rogers the State would probably have been able to rebut his testimony by pointing out that Kostman was a tad familiar with Miranda warnings, having had six prior convictions for lacivious acts with a child. The Court found that a "reasonable strategic and tactical decision."

(Ya think?)


STRANGE V. GLASCOCK (Speaking of unusual names):

"Plaintiff claimed to have suffered a brain injury as a result of the accident. When specifically asked by defendant’s attorney she said she was claiming damages for a brain injury. Prior to trial she had two separate neuropsychological examinations by two different neuropsychologists, one of her choosing and one designated by the defendant. Both experts determined that plaintiff malingered on the tests and testified generally that one who malingers on neuropsychological tests may also be likely to malinger as to subjective physical complaints."

(NOTE: Sign #459 that your case is going straight down the toilet: your own expert testifies your client is a malingerer.)

A defense verdict was rendered based on an assessment of 50.5 percent fault on the plaintiff. The plaintiff appealed based on the inadmissibility of a defense reconstruction of the accident, and the claim that the testimony by the neuropsychologists that she was malingering was impermissible character evidence.

Iowa Rule of Evidence 5.608 provides:

a. Opinion and reputation evidence of character. The credibility of a witness may be attacked or supported by evidence in the form of opinion or reputation, subject to the following limitations:

(1) The evidence may refer only to character for truthfulness or untruthfulness.

b. Specific instances of conduct. Specific instances of the conduct of a witness, for the purpose of attacking or supporting the witness’s credibility, other than conviction of crime as provided in rule 5.609, may not be proved by extrinsic evidence. They may, however, in the discretion of the court, if probative of truthfulness or untruthfulness, be inquired into on cross-examination of the witness (1) concerning the witness’s character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, or (2) concerning the character for truthfulness or untruthfulness of another witness as to which character the witness being cross-examined has testified.

The Court found that the truthfulness of a witness is not “a fact in issue,” but a matter to be generally determined solely by the jury and that expert opinions as to the truthfulness of a witness are not admissible. However, Iowa is “generally committed to a liberal rule which allows opinion testimony if it will aid the jury in screening the properly admitted evidence to ascertain the truth." The expert testimony about the mental condition of a victim is admissible where the victim’s mental capacity is a key element of the crime charge. A key element in this case, if the jury had gotten to the issue of assessing plaintiff’s damages, was whether or not plaintiff suffered a brain injury and other injuries to her person. Therefore, the expert testimony was admissible on the issue of plaintiff’s personal injury, and the testimony was such that it would aid the jury in screening the properly admitted evidence to ascertain the truth as to the injuries she sustained. NOTE: there was a dissent by Judge Hecht in which he indicated he'd have excluded the malingering evidence.


STATE v. PHILPOTT involves criminal eavesdropping. The facts are the most interesting part of the case:

Sadly, certain employees in the Franklin County Clerk of Court’s office, including the defendant, had a longstanding conflict. The State blames the defendant for the conflict and the defendant blames her coworkers. As disappointing as it is that the employees may have put their own personal issues before the good of the office, identifying the instigator or instigators of the conflict is not the issue. The case focuses on the operation of defendant’s tape recorder on November 7, 8 and 9 of 2002. Defendant had kept the tape recorder on her desk in the office for around a year before the days at issue. Following a verbal interchange with one coworker, the defendant sent an e-mail to the acting clerk of court to explain her side of the incident. In the e-mail she stated, “If I need to run a tape recorder every time I speak to either one of them to have an accurate record of the conversation, then I will.”

On November 7, 2002 coworkers claimed to notice the tape recorder was operating while the defendant was at lunch. One called the county attorney and the acting district court administrator to inquire about the legality of defendant recording conversations while she was out of the office. On November 8, the tape recorder allegedly was operating while the defendant was in another room on a conference call. On November 9, the tape recorder allegedly was operating while the defendant was at lunch. A coworker called District Court Judge Carroll. The judge was to testify he observed that the play and record buttons were depressed and the voice activation switch on the recorder was on. The judge called the acting court administrator and put him on hold while the judge sought to determine whether the tape recorder was recording. He stopped the tape, rewound it briefly, then listened to it. He heard voices of people in the office and the sound of whistling he made earlier as a test. Following a staff meeting, the defendant removed the recorder.

Interesting work environment, that. Reminds me of a quote my aunt Ellen uses to describe our family: "We put the "fun" in dysfunctional." Don't ask.

The defendant raised three primary issues on appeal: (1) the court should have granted her motion to dismiss because the statute violates due process and equal protection; (2) the State failed to prove she recorded anything, left her recorder on intentionally, or that the communications recorded were “clothed with an expectation of privacy;” and (3) the court should have granted a new trial because the jury was misinstructed, prejudicial evidence without probative value was admitted, and the weight of the evidence is against the verdict. The most interesting of these is the constitutional claim. Iowa Code section 727.8 provides:

Any person, having no right or authority to do so, who taps into or connects a listening or recording device to any telephone or other communication wire, or who by any electronic or mechanical means listens to, records, or otherwise intercepts a conversation or communication of any kind, commits a serious misdemeanor; provided, that the sender or recipient of a message or one who is openly present and participating in or listening to a communication shall not be prohibited hereby from recording such message or communication; and further provided, that nothing herein shall restrict the use of any radio or television receiver to receive any communication transmitted by radio or wireless signal.

The defendant had moved to dismiss case, alleging the statute was unconstitutional as applied to the her and on its face because:

1. It is void for vagueness because “having no right or authority to do so” is not defined or explained so a person of common intelligence would not have fair notice of its meaning and application.

2. It is overbroad because it invades a defendant’s First Amendment right to access to information.

3. It violates due process because it fails to provide an explicit standard for enforcement, thereby unduly delegating basic policy matters to police and others on a subjective basis.

4. It violates due process by imposing a criminal penalty without a requirement of general or specific intent.

5. It violates equal protection because it does not allow a person to record a conversation when absent that the person has the right to record when present.

With regard to the "right or authority" issue, the Court pointed out that this has been sufficiently defined in State v. Fox, 493 N.W.2d 829, 831 (Iowa 1992). Regarding the enforcement issue, the Court noted that the statute provides two general exceptions to the prohibition against listening to, recording, or intercepting conversations or communications: (1) a person can record if “openly present and participating in or listening to the communication” and (2) radio and television receivers may receive radio and television signals. The Court held the statute does not delegate basic policy decisions to enforcers or to provide for resolution on an ad hoc or subjective basis merely because it does not contain additional exceptions to the prohibited conduct, and so was not unconstitutionally vague so as to delegate policy decisions to enforcers or to provide for resolution on a subjective basis.

(An interesting side note: the defendant argued the statute should contain exceptions for recording with permission or if a person is unable to be present, such as a student recording a lecture. The Court responded: "Such argument should be addressed to the legislature." As a practical matter, I don't think the cops are waiting outside lecture halls to bust students, but don't you think this might be a little problematic?)

The Court also found the rest of the argument less than persuasive:

We conclude, as did the district court, section 727.8 is a general intent statute . . . We find unpersuasive the defendant’s argument it is turned into a public welfare strict liability offense because it lacks specific criminal intent language. . . .

The defendant contends the statute violates equal protection because it (1) classifies communications in which the participants have a reasonable expectation of privacy with those in which they do not and (2) too narrowly defines the exception for openly-present or participating and does not allow for recording by consent. . . . [W]e do not agree the statute must provide for recording by consent in order to pass constitutional muster as applied to the defendant. . . . The circumstances of this case show the defendant, in order to provide an accurate record of her interaction with coworkers, stated she would record her interactions with them if that is what it took. Under the statute, the defendant was free to record her conversations and interactions with coworkers without regard to their consent (emphasis supplied). . . .

The defendant asserts the State’s interest in stopping electronic or mechanical eavesdropping is based on the assumption the act is surreptitious and invades the participants’ privacy, citing cases from other jurisdictions and arguing the statutory offense is derived from the common law offense. From that assertion, she argues the statute is neither narrowly tailored nor rationally related to the State’s interest. The defendant argues strict scrutiny applies and the statute must be narrowly tailored because it infringes what she sees as a First Amendment right of access to information. She claims it is not rationally related because it does not require an expectation of privacy. . . . Strict scrutiny applies if a law implicates a fundamental right. . . . The defendant asserts “courts have held that gaining information or documents from a public office can implicate a First Amendment right.” Assuming without deciding the defendant’s assertion is true, she has provided no authority that any such right is fundamental. We conclude section 727.8 demonstrates a reasonable fit in the means chosen to protect individuals from unauthorized or unknown interception of their communications. It requires either that the person obtain the right or authority or else be openly present. In addition, as applied to the defendant, the statute would not prevent her from obtaining information or documents from a public office, nor would it prevent her from creating an accurate record of her interaction with coworkers. It merely prevents her from indiscriminate recording of conversations to which she is not a party.


An Oklahoma senator hopes to revive cockfighting in the state by putting tiny boxing gloves on the roosters instead of razors.

At least that's one stupid law that didn't get proposed in Iowa.

Just Wondering

Do the fashion police have a department of internal affairs?

Ethical Blogging

Lately, it seems I keep hearing about mainstream media articles like this and this discussing blog ethics. Key quotes from the AP article:

When Jerome Armstrong began consulting for Howard Dean's presidential campaign, he thought the ethical thing to do was to suspend the Web journal where he opined on politics.

But to suggest others do the same with their journals, otherwise known as blogs? No way.

"If I'm getting paid by a client, I don't blog about it. That's my personal set of standards," Armstrong said. "I'm not going to hold anybody else to my personal standards. I'm not going to make that universal."

The growing influence of blogs such as his is raising questions about whether they are becoming a new form of journalism and in need of more formal ethical guidelines or codes of conduct. . . .

How bloggers handle matters of ethics and disclosure vary greatly.

While Armstrong suspended his blog, a partner in his political consulting firm, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, kept his going and instead posted a disclosure about the payment. The Dean campaign had paid the pair $3,000 a month for technical consulting services.

Others saw no need to disclose at all. In South Dakota, blogger Jon Lauck said many people knew he was a paid consultant to John Thune's Senate campaign, but Lauck didn't believe he had to post any "flashing banner" on his site. . . .

Many news organizations have formal guidelines separating editorial and business operations, and journalism schools and professional societies try to teach good practices.

Bloggers, though, tend to shudder at being called journalists, even as lines between the two blur. . . .

In some sense, bloggers already have informally adopted norms that go beyond what traditional journalists do, Rosen said. For instance, bloggers who don't link to source materials aren't taken seriously, while traditional news organizations have no such policies.

Dan Gillmor, a former newspaper columnist now studying citizen-driven journalism through blogging, said bloggers who want an audience will voluntarily adopt principles of fairness, thoroughness, accuracy and transparency.

I agree that those who want to be seen as accurate will disclose any financial connections to the company being blogged on. I don't have a problem with the idea of a political worker blogging, so long as the disclaimer is made when it touches "their" candidate, as Markos Moulitsas Zuniga did with "Daily Kos". But where does the potential for conflict begin? For example, I was a criminal prosecutor for about five years, and focused on domestic violence issues for three of them. I now work in an insurance defense field. Does that mean I am obligated to put a link to these facts whenever I discuss criminal or tort issues? My current standard is to use a disclaimer whenever I feel I've crossed the line from straight legal commentary to soapbox-land. Otherwise, I don't bother. You can glean the info from reading the blog, and like most blogs, it is essentially a personal journal of oddities. I don't feel that the personal nature of a blog makes it a poor choice for a source of information. I think James Lileks said it well in 2002 (link via Instapundit, as were the links to the articles above):

A wire story consists of one voice pitched low and calm and full of institutional gravitas, blissfully unaware of its own biases or the gaping lacunae in its knowledge. Whereas blogs have a different format: Clever teaser headline that has little to do with the actual story, but sets the tone for this blog post. Breezy ad hominem slur containing the link to the entire story. Excerpt of said story, demonstrating its idiocy (or brilliance) Blogauthor's remarks, varying from dismissive sniffs to a Tolstoi- length rebuttal. Seven comments from people piling on, disagreeing, adding a link, acting stupid, preaching to the choir, accusing choir of being Nazis, etc.

I'd say it's a throwback to the old newspapers, the days when partisan slants covered everything from the play story to the radio listings, but this is different. The link changes everything. When someone derides or exalts a piece, the link lets you examine the thing itself without interference. TV can't do that. Radio can't do that. Newspapers and magazines don't have the space. My time on the internet resembles eight hours at a coffeeshop stocked with every periodical in the world - if someone says "I read something stupid" or "there was this wonderful piece in the Atlantic" then conversation stops while you read the piece and make up your own mind.

Precisely. Most news-like blogs are more accurately linked to an editorial than the front page of a news letter. They're a news digest, meant to inform but also as a vent for the author to expand on their "take" on the issue. The links to original sources allow the readers to follow a trail of evidence and accept or reject the premise forwarded by the author.

On the other hand, some MSM outlets apparently need a refresher course in the very ethics being discussed. I was reading the Iowa Pork Forest blog this morning, as I'm signing up to contribute some posts there.

State 29 had this post about an editorial in the Gazette about the fake rainforest in Coralville, and the response from University of Iowa law professor Nicholas Johnson. Relevant excerpts are both from reprints of the articles on Professor Johnson's site. While I don't mind registering for online papers, I'm not subscribing to the Gazette merely to fisk it's articles.

The Gazette's article was very favorable to the fake rainforest:

The Environmental Project is the boldest idea proposed in Iowa in decades. Are there risks? Sure. After years of fund raising, enough money still hasn’t been raised to cover the estimated $180 million construction cost. And even once it’s built, it’s going to take a lot of visitors to make the facility self-sufficient.

But is it time to take a risk in Iowa? Even with all kinds of attention paid in recent years to business creation, work-force recruitment and simply bringing more people to Iowa, the state ranks 47th in the nation in growth since 2000. . . .

The Environmental Project won’t magically solve Iowa’s growth problem. But it can play a significant role on several fronts. . . .

Perhaps a rain forest in Iowa sounds crazy, but not any more so than a president’s likeness carved into a stone cliff or a steel arch towering over a Mississippi River town. Having a unique attraction on a grand scale would give tourists a better reason to come to Iowa, and it would leave people with a more positive perception of the state.

The Environmental Project would create hundreds of good jobs. Iowans would be cheering and legislators working overtime to create incentives if a traditional company were promising the same. . . .

Iowa can play it conservatively, shun new projects and unique approaches to economic development. But with that approach, expect the same 3 million of us to be looking at one another in a decade wondering why the tax base hasn’t grown, why investment and prosperity is fleeing to other states and why we rank at the bottom of population charts.

Professor Johnson's response points out several problems with their opinion. It also points out that the President and Publisher of the Gazette Company is Joe Hladky, who is also on the Board of Directors for the Iowa Environmental Project, which is another name for the fake rainforest in Coralville, Iowa. The Gazette never mentioned that potential conflict of interest in its glowing editorial.

This touches back to the issue I blogged on earlier, regarding members of the Citizen Advisory Board for the Environmental Project writing editorials and letters in the Iowa City Press Citizen, few of which mentioned the author's connection to the group. I'm reposting the list, and adding links to the reprints of their articles on Professor Johnson's site:

• Sheila Boyd, General Growth.

• Randy Rayner, Laborers Local No. 1238.

• Scott Carpenter, University of Iowa Department of Geoscience.

Dick (Richard L.) Rex, former mayor of West Branch. • Lois Crowley, Iowa City Community School District.

• Chris Rohret, Iowa City Community School District. • Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville.

• Sheila Samuelson, 2004 University of Iowa biology graduate. • Coralville Mayor Jim Fausett.

• Chris Scarpellino, Loparex Inc.

• Rick Hanna, Carpenters Local Union 1260.

• Josh Schamberger, Iowa City/ Coralville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

• Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth.

• Dr. Jill Scholz, Family Foot Care.

• John Hudson, Iowa Arts Council.

• Linda Schreiber, Iowa City Area Development.

• Sandra Hudson, Iowa Incubator. • Sharon Thomas, Iowa City Community School District.

• Beth Jorgensen, Iowa City Community School District.

• Neil Trott, Canterbury Inn.

• Johnson County Supervisor Terrence Neuzil.

• Deanna Trumbell, Trumbell Consulting.

• Mark Phillips, RSM McGladrey.

• Ed Williams, Biowa.

• Wayne Peterson, United States Department of Agriculture.

• Joe Raso, Iowa City Area Development.



As a police officer, Brent is quite knowledgeable about things people have problems saying when drunk. Check it out - then practice, practice, practice.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Around the 'Net

Slashdot notes that most people who Google can't tell the difference between a paid ad result and a regular one.

It also features Kryptos - the ulitmate puzzle for those who truly want to drive themselves nuts.


Erin Crawford at the Des Moines Register points out some of the weird laws that are being proposed at the Iowa Legislature this year:

To stop daylight savings time.

Rationale: Saving Money. How, exactly, I don't know. I guess getting up in the dark is cheaper.

To ban those spinning hubcaps

Rationale: in case someone thinks you're still moving and rearends you. As the article points out: how does somebody from behind see your hubcaps? WTF?

I'd like to add this one to the list: Getting rid of state income tax for people under 30. According to the article "The average yearly tax savings would run about $600 for taxpayers in their 20s or younger" but it "would reduce state revenue by an estimated $200 million a year, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency."

Do you people think that $600 a year is going to make a difference in keeping college graduates in this state? Seriously? Yes, the savings will go up as the salaries increase in the 20's and 30's. But the savings will never be enough to make up the difference in salary between a major Des Moines law firm and one in New York. I don't have any recent statistics, but take these from a University of Iowa law school press release in 2001 and extrapolate:

Nearly 60 percent of the recent graduates are employed in the Midwest, with 39 percent opting to practice in Iowa. The average in-state starting salary is $33,814; the average out-of-state salary is $59,586.

You get about twice the salary for going out of state. If you want new grads to stay here based on financials alone, you'd better look at grants to double their salary, not tax breaks. But in the end, as Jonathan Roos' editorial illustrates, people place greater weight on personal reasons for staying or leaving Iowa: wanting to live near family, desiring an urban atmosphere, and so on. If someone has always wanted to live in New York, I doubt if even a New York salary could tempt them to live and work in Hills. Our budget is already strained to the maximum, this law will put a great strain on it with very little gain to the targeted taxpayer, even if it does survive constitutional scrutiny under the first age discrimination suit brought by a 30-year-old. This is a silly, silly idea.

State 29 agrees with me on these.


Greenman and Theresa are both quitting smoking. They haven't killed each other yet. Follow the saga.


Homercles notes Invasion Iowa will be aired soon.


The Press-Citizen has this article on SPIT, the new theater group out of West High.


Mathman reminds us it's RAGBRAI registration time. One of these days I've got to go along for the ride.


Orin Kerr from the Volokh Conspiracy notes "Court Holds Legislatures Cannot Ban Obscene Pornography". It's an interesting analysis.

Meth and Sudafed

The Des Moines Register has another article. I understand the impulse to ban Sudafed and it's copycats from the shelves. No pseudoephedrine, no meth, right? But it's also one of the most effective sinus relief meds, and as someone who can at times average one to two such headaches a week (a wicked sinus/migraine combo) I'm against it. Ask me when I'm in the grip of one of those killer headaches, and I'm rather violently against it. I understand State 29's point about there being liquid meds that could substitute. Ever try to carry one in your pocket?

I'd like them to explore some of the ideas on changing anhydrous that are being batted around at Tusk and Talon. If it's possible to come at it from that direction, you'd keep a lot of people happy and inconvenience very few. Yes, farmers use the stuff. But it's so toxic it's carefully handled anyway, and I don't see them trying to carry it in their pocket. If not, the compromise solution discussed in the article seems okay: let retailers handle it, but you've got to show ID and they keep a database on it to preclude store-hopping. That's fine, I only need a box at a time anyway.

Legal Blogging

Two major cases in legal news:

In United States v. Pace, the US Supreme Court allows the practice of bringing a drug-sniffing dog to the scene of a routine traffic stop. The upshot: so long as they don't keep you longer than it takes to write a ticket, it's not a real search. If you've got to wait a few hours for the dog to show up, then it's the fruit of an illegal detention. Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy analyzes out one of the more interesting aspects of the case:

" . . . Justice Stevens had to distinguish the Court's 2001 thermal imaging case, Kyllo v. United States, in which Stevens had dissented. Kyllo held (more or less) that it is a search for the police to point an infrared thermal imaging device at the exterior wall of a private home. To reconcile the holding of Place with Kyllo, Stevens reasoned that the key was the nature of the information that surveillance method yielded. The thermal imaging device was used to obtain intimate details in the home, whereas the drug-sniffing dog only indicated the presence or non-presence of illegal narcotics."

He also points out that the approach to the analysis seems to be evolving:

"Under the traditional approach, the government could not invade your property without a warrant no matter what information it wished to obtain. Under the rationale followed by the Court today, the government may be free to invade your property so long as they only obtain "non private" information." This is particularly troubling in the context of computer searches and seizures. Can the police send a computer virus to your computer that searches your computer for obscene images, or images of child pornography, and then reports back to the police whether such images are on your computer — all without probable cause, or even any suspicion at all? The traditional answer would have been no: the police cannot enter your private property to search even for non-private stuff. But thanks to the increasing focus on the nature of the information rather than how the information is obtained, it's no longer so clear.

It bears watching. I wonder whether method will eventually have something to do with it: The dog sniff takes place outside the vehicle, it doesn't send anything into penetrate the vehicle exterior. The dog merely sniffs scents eminating from the car. On the other hand, the infrared scanner sends beams into the house to scan it, and the computer virus scenario has the feds actually invading your computer, albiet electronically. If I were a judge, I'd split the hairs thusly: Actual invasion, either tangible or intangible + specific information obtained = unreasonable search absent another applicable exception.

I saw on How Appealing that the US Supreme Court also made news by what it won't decide - it rejected cert of Jeb Bush's appeal on the Terry Schiavo case. In other words, the ruling of the Florida Supreme Court that Bush's "Terry's Law" is invalid stands. Milbarge discusses the issue buzzing around the net: Is her husband trying to get rid of her in order to keep the insurance money (About $1 million. He's not entitled to it if they divorce so he can remarry - it's my understanding he has a girlfriend - but he will inherit it if she dies). His take:

"First, it's hard for me to judge the man; to him his wife is dead and he wants to move on with his life. Second, the trial judge found as a fact that Terri wouldn't have wanted to be kept alive in the state she's in. Like many of these cases, we can't be 100% sure of that, but that's not what the law requires. The trial judge heard the testimony and weighed the evidence, and without having looked too deeply at this, I'm willing to defer to that judgment. If you assume it's right, though, it's her parents who are going against her wishes and prolonging her sufferring, which the judge found she wouldn't have wanted. I'll say again that this is a difficult and heartrending case, but there still has to be a decision in it."

I agree there has to be a final decision based on her wishes. And various court-appointed guardians have concurred with the husband's position. However, it still looks very bad when there's a monetary gain and a personal gain. According to Abstract Appeal's very extensive, non-partisan site, the Court did entertain a presumption in favor of life:

The Schindlers did appeal, and the Second District determined that while a surrogate decision-maker should err on the side of life, the trial judge had sufficiently clear and convincing evidence to determine that Terri would not wish to continue the life-prolonging measures she needs to live.

The only thing I would have done differently is to appoint a guardian ad litem to advocate purely for Terri. Abstract Appeal indicates that Florida law does allow for it, but the trial judge felt it would be cumulative:

Under these circumstances, the two parties, as adversaries, present their evidence to the trial court. The trial court determines whether the evidence is sufficient to allow it to make the decision for the ward to discontinue life support. In this context, the trial court essentially serves as the ward's guardian. Although we do not rule out the occasional need for a guardian in this type of proceeding, a guardian ad litem would tend to duplicate the function of the judge, would add little of value to this process, and might cause the process to be influenced by hearsay or matters outside the record.

I think it would've acted to stem some of the public outrage on the case, though I recognize that this is said with the benefit of a significant amount of hindsight.

Stupid Internet Quiz #7563

Via the Yin Blog:


and go to because law school made laura do this.

Yep, I can go anywhere I want. And nothing short of an armed officer with a restraining order will stop me. So there. Nyah.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

More Iowa Blogginess

In Technoratiing my site, I discover I'm being linked to by Iowa bloggers I didn't know existed. Cool! So thanks to Mute Complications and Gradual Dazzle (who's got an awesomely colorful template), and I'll be needing to revise my blogrolls soon. But via Mute Complications I've discovered four pages of Iowa blogs on Globe of the Blogs. I'll have to sort through and see which are defunct and which are active.

Comics In Action

If you're in Iowa City, don't forget to head over to the Mill tonight for Comics in Action. No, it has nothing to do with Batman. The info:

• What: Comics in Action, an improvisational comedy troupe.

• When: 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

• Where: The Mill Restaurant, 120 E. Burlington St.

• How much: $3 cover.

• Information: Call 319-360-2678.

Brian Tanner, aka Agent Mojo, will make an appearance. He's slated to play Tesman in Hedda Gabler. Please note the correct time of 9:30, Brian says the Press-Citizen got the info wrong and posted it at 9:15. God forbid anyone get there early and actually be forced to down an extra glass.

More Englert Stuff

Greenman does more digging on the Englert issue. He comes up with a discussion on the topic in the transcripts from the minutes of the meeting of the Johnson County Board of Supervisers in June of 2002. It's where the project is making a pitch for Vision Iowa funds. One bit I find interesting:

Schamberger: I think you might note too the expansion, the community demand, includes this really creative visionary concept of the Iowa City cultural incubator. It’s really what the 3rd floor of the Englert is going to be utilized for. That is going to be really Johnson County non-profit arts and cultural organizations to have office space. People like the Cultural Alliance, like Arts Iowa City…

Zimmer: Jazz Fest, Arts Festival, Iowa City Community Theater. It’s also going to be an incubator for smaller organizations that don’t need office space, but need support.

Schamberger: To grow from. That’s really what the 3rd floor, so it will be impacting several…

Zimmer: Absolutely.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the space they're now trying to rent out for corporate offices?


Dweeze's letter gets published in the Press-Citizen.

Matt points out their mission statement might need revising:

The mission of the Englert Civic Theatre, Inc. is to own, maintain and operate the Englert Theatre as a community arts center and performance space, enhancing the vitality of Iowa City's historic downtown by preserving its last historic theater.

The Englert Civic Theatre, Inc. will provide diverse programming, educational opportunities, and exposure to the performing and visual arts. Our focus will be to highlight the talents of local performers, artists, and ensembles.

Way More Ironic than Bad Weather

While I'm blogging away trying to keep up with all the interesting stuff out there, the Press-Citizen prints a press release in the guise of an editorial. Slow news day, guys?

(The title for this post is derived from an old complaint that half the things listed in Ironic aren't actually examples of irony.) I mean, a black fly in your Chardonnay? Are you serious?

Around the 'Net II

Don at Tusk and Talon discusses the mysteries of Google:

While perusing our incoming referrals via Sitemeter, I like to check the various Google and other searches to see how people who aren’t regular readers find us. And I spot one in which the search phrase was,

“causes of rectal hemoraging”

Hmmm. I don’t recall any column about this, unless, maybe it was something Chad was interested in. Chad’s our designated authority on medical issues and stuff; yeah, that’s the ticket.

Lately, I've had a couple of people find my site by querying for Will Kenyon's blog, or Comics in Action, or "Drug Defense No Constructive Possession". Understandable. But then I get people interested in:

Random Sexual Questions

Movie Slyvia

and I think they'll be disappointed.


Dave Barry points out SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE NO. 34,918 - Digital Bagpipes.


SpongeBob isn't out after all. Dobson was protesting against exploiting SpongeBob in a tolerance video, not the cartoon itself.

OTOH (On the other hand, Nelle ) Tinky Winky has no one else to play with. Though I've always had my suspicions about Ernie and Bert, the eternal "roommates."

Via Salieri and Instapundit.


Instapundit also notes this New York Times article that seems to imply the internet is responsible for perpetuating child porn. I read the article as saying that the 'net improves the opportunity for those who already have the impulse. It does rather imply that it is responsible for creating perpetrators where none existed before:

I asked about the Internet, whether it may bear any causal responsibility along the path toward offending. ''It's a fairly complicated issue,'' Berlin said, and one for which there appears to be, again, no solid research. ''I wouldn't go so far as to say that the Internet creates desire, but I do think it is creating significant difficulties.'' To some extent, he explained, it is merely a ''new and different vehicle'' for those who would offend against children anyway. But it ''provides temptation for some who might not otherwise have crossed the line.'' He added: ''There are three areas of concern. First, the illusion of anonymity -- an illusion because Internet use can be easily tracked -- leads to disinhibition. Second, there's a blurring of fantasy and reality. There's someone at the other end of the Internet conversation, but it's not quite a real person; there's a feeling of playing a game that can lead to actually doing what one otherwise wouldn't. Third, the easy accessibility can facilitate'' moving over boundaries.

Over the past decade, with the surge in Internet use, there has been no spike in the overall number of cases of sexual abuse against children. (There has been, it appears, a significant decrease, attributed by some to the success of harsher sentences and offender registries and by others, in part, to the possibility that those sentences and registries discourage victims, who tend to know their abusers, from reporting the crimes.) But Berlin's concern was echoed by Prentky when he described the Internet as ''a catalyst for fantasy and dangerous if the control over behavior is markedly impaired.'' And by David D'Amora, Patrick Liddle's boss and the head of the Center for the Treatment of Problem Sexual Behavior, who has about 800 child sexual abusers under his watch in Connecticut, when he talked about the Net's abundant porn and disembodied chat-room conversation as a ''disinhibitor.''

Easy access to porn has been blamed by many as the "cause" of various socially undesirable sexual interests. Witness the recent series of articles on Randy Brown in the Des Moines Register, that as I blogged on earlier seem to make him out as a victim of the internet.

Matthew Yglesias has this to say:

But, clearly, we had child molestors before we had the internet. And if child abuse is dropping while internet use is skyrocketing (and we all know that pornography is a hefty part of that use), then it's really, really, really hard to see why we should think that the internet and its disinhibiting properties are part of the problem. I mean, if one day low alcohol beers show up on the marketplace, their sales skyrocket, and the incidence of alcoholism starts to go down, then our hypothetical alcoholic's claims don't seem nearly so absurd.


Greenman enters the dialogue on the Englert, linking to a video made at the beginning of the project which should help show the original intent of the venue.


For those who want more on the "are women statistially handicapped at math and science" issue, there are some good posts at the Volokh conspiracy here and here, both discussing the statistics and science behind the issue. Armando at Daily Kos has a post up here, finding Summer's remarks inappropriate regardless of accuracy due to his position and the topic of the conference. And Instapundit notes: Though it seems that it's okay to talk about sex differences, so long as it's done in a way that reflects badly on men.


Okay, that's about half my virtual "clippings pile" for the week. Why is it half the time there's not much to write about, and the other half you're snowed under an avalanche of information?

Olly Olly Oxen Free

I found my sidebar. It was driving me nuts - why could I see it at home on dial-up but not at work on a high-speed connection? Then I scrolled all the way down -at the bottom. Problem fixed. Never mind.

Around the "Net

Instapundit previews the new warning labels for high school science classes.


Crimlaw features the latest permutation of the Nigerian scam. Read it with a British accent, if you please. They also note the latest on the Michael Jackson trial in their "around the web" roundup: a motion in limine to prevent the prosecution from referring to the child as "the victim" or telling the jury that the prosecuting attorney represents "the people." In my opinion, the first one is odd, but semantically correct as the victim isn't a victim unless there was a crime. However, their solution of referring to him as a "complaining witness" isn't exactly right either, as it also has a negative connotation. Perhaps they should go old-school Agatha Christie and call him the "Witness for the Prosecution." The second objection is not so meritorious, the attorney does represent "the people." It's also rather pointless. Somehow I can't see a juror saying to themselves: "Oh, I'd vote not guilty, but this is my lawyer and if my lawyer tells me he's guilty, then he must be guilty. I guess I'll change my vote."


Professor Yin's got the scoop on the new Battlestar Galactica. When I was a kid I liked the original, pretty much because I thought Dirk Benedict was kind of cute and it was the 80's - I really didn't know any better. I have caught one episode of the new version. It's a real show, with actual plot lines. Go figure.


Homercles links to this article: A 40-year-old woman held sex and drug parties with teenage boys, telling police she wanted to be a "cool mom," authorities say. His comment: "Don't mind me, I'm just compiling evidence for the next time someone says schools are failing because of inept teachers." Yep.

Monday, January 24, 2005

More Englert Blogging

Nelle put this in my comments, but I think it needs to go up front:

I wish I could comment on Dweezes sight, because 29 just made a comment that I would like to respond to.

I just recently got a flier in the male from the Englert of the artists that will be performing there. NONE of the artists or theater groups are from our local area. I can understand bringing in other shows and performers, but when you make more of a big deal out of them and totally ignore any local groups, I feel that is wrong. ICCT was the biggest pusher for saving the Englert. Having that theater group be one of the the first local groups to perform in the space would be great P.R. for both groups.

We need to do a little shouting. People who donated to the Englert with the idea that ICCT would benefit as well have been miss lead.


Dweeze's post is here, to to the comments for 29's response here.

I have to say that while I have nothing against Kottke, I agree with Nelle. As a disclaimer, I need to point out that I am on the ICCT Board. That board is making every effort not to join into the fray publicly, in hopes that an agreement can be worked out. Drafts are in the works, etc., and I'm not going to comment on that at this time. Follow the story starting here and here on Dweeze's site if you want the inside scoop on what happened in the past. I wasn't there, so I can't tell you anything other than the documents that I've seen support his statements.

So this is strictly personal: I count myself in the ranks of the disillusioned. Remember this article?

The Englert is envisioned as a low-cost venue for more than 50 community-based performing groups that have been identified as probable users.

We anticipate having over 120 events per year with use by both nonprofit groups and commercial promoters.

Iowa City Community Theater would give almost all of its performances there.

Almost all of the other performances are expected to be family-oriented, including other amateur theater productions, community music ensembles, dance, barbershop and other choral groups, receptions, concerts by touring musical groups, and lectures.

A perfect example of the latter occurred last Saturday at Irving Weber days, when Bob Hibbs narrated a slide show about the history of Iowa City. As far as we know, that was the first non-film use of the Englert since Gloria Dei held its services there for 21 months after the church was destroyed by fire on Sunday, April 1, 1962.

Or how about this one?

Q. I'm still unclear about what types of things I'll be able to see at a renovated Englert.

A. It's a long list - more than 50 local groups have indicated an interest. It will be the Iowa City Community Theatre's residence, as well as being available to all other troupes. There will be lectures, readings, radio broadcasts, slide and travel presentations, dance performances, auctions, fashion shows, meetings, weddings, receptions, fundraisers and award ceremonies. Not to mention all types of music performances, including "popular operas."

There's tons more out there, but you get the point. Local artists were promised that the theater would be a showcase for community talent. ICCT was to be the 'resident theater', giving almost all of its performances there. Other groups were similarly promised preferred statuts, as it was to be a community project and a community theater. On the strength of these promises, local artists pitched in and raised a ton of money for the project. Iowa City Community Theatre made substantial donations - enough to evicerate it's running capital - on the strength of these representations. So what have we seen booked?

Leo Kottke

Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 8PM

The Second City Touring Company

Friday, February 18, 2005 at 8PM

Big Bad Wolf

The Second City's Children's Theatre

Friday, February 18, 2005 at 10AM

Three Tales with Tails

MadCap Productions Puppet Theatre

Sunday, February 20, 2005 at 2PM

1964 The Tribute

Thursday, February 24, 2005 at 8PM

Gala Grand Opening featuring Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Anne Marie McDermott West Music Company, Sheraton Hotel Iowa City, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics

Wednesday, March 2, 2005 Reception at 6PM, Ribbon Cutting at 7:30PM, Performance at 8PM



Saturday, March 19, 2005 at 2PM

Leon Redbone

Saturday, April 2, 2005 at 8PM

Tom Sawyer

American Family Theatre

Saturday, April 23, 2005 at 2PM

Beauty and the Beast

American Family Theatre

Sunday, May 22, 2005 at 2PM

The Elves and the Shoemaker

MadCap Productions Puppet Theatre

Saturday, May 22, 2005 at 2PM and 6PM

Do you see anything with the words "Dreamwell," "City Circle," "Iowa City Community Theatre" or even "Riverside" or "Old Creamery" on it? Nope. Why is that? In a nutshell, the rates:

The base rental rate falls under two catagories. Not-for-profit companies can rent for $800 for five hours and for-profit companies can rent for $1,000. This includes the stage, all basic theater sound, lighting and rigging equipment, and use of the box office. A list of extra equipment such as light scrollers, man-lifts and labor costs will be provided on demand. A not-for-profit rental rate of $600 can also be given under work light conditions only with no further technical elements required for rehearsals.

To my knowledge, none of the local theaters can afford these rates. While I understand that the Englert board indicates local theaters should "get them a proposal," I've seen little effort on the part of Eric Kerchner to meet anyone halfway.

I have no problem with another professional touring facility in the area. I see some quality acts here, that will expand the opportunity to attend artistic events in Iowa City. If that's all there is to the analysis, I'd be satisfied. If the funds for the Englert had been raised with the idea of a mini-Hancher or Paramount in mind, I'd be the first to say that the local artists are just whining.

But they weren't. The focus on the Englert project began as local theater and arts. It changed mid-stream and many of the original donors are feeling utterly abandoned. That's the driving force behind the letters you're seeing.

For myself, I wasn't involved with theater at all at the time the Englert project got off the ground in 2000. I gave some to the project, but not enough to feel entitled to much. But the chance to play on the same boards Sarah Bernhardt once graced was in the back of my mind in 2003 when I auditioned for my first post-high school show, and started devoting a gagillion volunteer hours to local theater. Theater is addictive enough that I've kept on even without much hope of ever realizing that vision, but I can imagine the disappointment and anger of those who devoted hundreds of manhours and personal funds to raising money for yet another venue that will cater to out of town touring companies.

What's Up with That?

Can anyone explain why it is Blogger seems to drop my sidebar out so often? Not the artwork, the links. It's not like they're enormous to load or anything, so what's up with that?? Is there anything I can do to change it? It's ticking me off.

Sorry I'm Late

But I've got a really good excuse.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

William Albert Kenyon 2004-2005


Little Will Kenyon passed away last night

When I first saw the site, I was certain the kid would make it. He was such a fighter. I thought it would be so cool - when he got older, they could show him the blog about his first year of life, maybe do a few searches and see from the links how many people that he didn't even know followed his story and prayed for him.

Please say a prayer for his parents and family.