Thursday, September 29, 2005


Random thought:

I've been thinking about ending this little adventure. Not that I don't have a ton of things to say, still, but I'm not certain this is the right venue. I started blogging on a whim, just to see what would happen. I found a group of intelligent, articulate people discussing issues with genuine passion, people whose diverse viewpoints almost simulated the atmosphere of some of my law school classes, as did the generally respectful though sometimes heated conversation. I found connections with people across the country, who I'd love to get together with and discuss life over cocktails of your choice anytime you're out this direction, or I'm out your way.

But . . .

This debate is largely populated by nameless, faceless people who stop by for every reason under the sun - some quite weird, judging by the google search links. And as someone recently pointed out to me, if anyone in the nation has my first name, state, and a few key interests (read: law, theater), they can find this blog on a basic Google search inside of five minutes. A quick plug in of my name into some other common resources would give them my address and phone number. Taking the recent comment dust-up that's apparently caused EBuz to delete her blog as an example, it's a little disconcerting who some of these people might be.

There's also the oddness factor in new acquaintances: in getting to know someone, they'll now every opinion I have on about every subject under the sun inside of a few day's worth of reading (yep, I'm that verbose). But I'll know nothing of them. It's made conversations oddly one-sided, as you might imagine. To get a little personal, I haven't really dated since the divorce, and I'm not too sure how that would play out in such a dynamic if I should ever want to start. I think it would be weird at best, a disaster at worst. And I've mentioned the employment issue earlier: In my current position, it's inevitable that at some point I'll be called into court as a corporate rep. If opposing counsel is worth anything, they'll have the blog as fodder. What a great tool for cross. If I ever want to try something new or go back to the courtroom, well, here's a handy interview outline for you. . .

There's also the time issue. I've got tons of opinions, some of which are based on hard research and others which are more off-the-cuff, knee-jerk reactions. Blogging is a great tool to force you to think about what you're saying, back it up properly, and work to find out the truth before you put it all out online and make a complete ass of yourself in front of, oh, anybody on the entire planet who cares to stop by. I try to be fairly scrupulous in ensuring that the facts behind what I say are accurate, if for no other reason than a healthy aversion to looking like a complete moron. So, to put up a blog post, I must 1) find a current topic that's interesting to post on, if only to me; 2) think about it well enough to come up with an opinion (or "angle" to revive my undergraduate journalism coursework); 3) fact-check to ensure there's no catch that would eviscerate my argument; and 4) write the thing in at least some semblance of coherency and even-handedness. If I'd taken a job in journalism instead of using my undergrad degree as a springboard into law school, I'd actually get paid for doing this, and it wouldn't be a problem. But I didn't. So this is a very expensive little hobby, time-wise, as I'm doing it all on my own on top of a full-time job and basically full-time volunteer work in theater.

So I'm debating ending the thing. I'm going to take a little hiatus and decide. If I do call it quits, I think I've found a good way to do it: I have a certain abhorrence to destroying anything I've written - hence the trunk full of scribbles from grade school on up - but if I delete most of the template that should mean the blog is gone. The posts are still there, but basically inaccessible and eventually they'll find themselves off the radar of the caches.

Anyway, I'm going to take two weeks off to think on it, just in case anybody wondered where I'd gone. So, even though there's no way on earth I could actually take any time off my real job to go anywhere good like I did a couple of years ago(D*mn Missouri tort reform deadline. Why couldn't they just have made it effective immediately???), consider me on a virtual vacation.

(Isla Mujeres, May 2004, taken from my swing at an open-air beach bar at about noon. I set down the margarita first. Then I took a swim and lay in the sun, with a few more fruity drink things. Later, I went shopping and bought some gorgeous silver jewelry, took a brief siesta, then went out to an incredible dinner, had a waiter give me flowers, and danced with some friends from Colorado to a live salsa band until about 3 am. I miss vacation. . . . )

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Abusive Suits

Allen Adgers, 41, who is serving a 13-year prison sentence for kidnapping, raping and assaulting his victim, has filed numerous frivolous lawsuits attacking his conviction and incarceration since May 2001. Some of the lawsuits have been directed at judges and prosecutor who put Adgers behind bars, but others have been directed at his victim. . . .

Adgers, acting as his own attorney, has also questioned his victim about her bra size, and winked and blew kisses at her in court.

Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano and state Victim Advocate James Papillo are putting together legal action aimed at insulating the victim from being served with legal documents fired off by Adgers that have the net effect of confirming her location.

Ely, We Have a Problem

The Ely City Council has adopted an ordinance that restricts where sexual offenders can live. It took the council about 12 minutes Tuesday night to hold a public hearing and unanimously pass the ordinance . . . The local law . . . bans sex offenders from living near city parks, playgrounds and the public library. Ely has no schools or registered day-care centers, raising fears by some residents the town could become a haven for sex offenders forced to move by the state law, said Aaron Anderson, Ely city clerk and administrator. The only areas in Ely not covered by the ordinance are a few undeveloped parcels on the city’s northeast edge, Mayor Dale Stanek said.

So now the entire town of Ely has now utterly banished sex offenders, with the exception of a few undeveloped parcels on the edge of town. What's to stop the rest of us from doing the same? We've expanded it to parks and the public library. Okay, how about video arcades? Shopping malls? Lots of kids there. The McDonalds? Kids are practically lured there with cartoon characters, shouldn't that be a sex-offender no-zone?

My point: We need to keep kids safe from molesters and violent sex offenders. We should do everything that is constitutionally permissible and reasonably likely to actually work. But if we legislatively try to keep SO's from living within 2000 feet of anywhere the kids might be there will be very few places they can live, which gives us a real constitutional problem. It seems to create a modern leper colony. And of course, none of that stops them from getting in the car and zipping over a few blocks to where the school is and stalking little Susie anyway.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruling on the issue is here, the 8th Circuit ruling is here, and there's an interesting constitutionality debate that starts on Prawfsblawg, moves to Crescat Sententia, and ends back at Prawfsblawg. Be sure to read the comments. There's also an analysis at Sentencing Law and Policy, and some good posts here, here and here on Crime & Federalism.

Loco Parentisitus

This WSJ Op-Ed underscores the rather absurd position colleges are finding themselves in with respect to students. Through privacy laws and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, it's arguable that the system has no right to release information to parents on things such as grades, disciplinary actions, and so forth, regardless of who pays the tab. But if that same student becomes suicidal or alcoholic, the school can be sued for failing to recognize the signs and act upon them. Unless I'm missing something, the rule of thumb appears to be treat them like an adult until something goes wrong, then you're on the hook for not babysitting them. Shouldn't we really consider making up our minds whether college students are kids or grown-ups?

via Point of Law Forum

On a related note, this Des Moines Register article discusses a new Department of Human Services budget plan to expand foster-care benefits to young adults through age 21. Again, the theory is that these people need a parent's help to get health-care coverage, figure out college financial-aid forms, and to help them over rough patches when a refrigerator or car breaks down.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More Odds and Ends

Omigod this is too, too, too funny. Scroll down to the second page to see what he really meant to say. This is why you never, never, never trust the spellchecker. It's even better that it actually got filed. I'm sure he's never going to hear the end of it - I'm still cleaning the coffee off my keyboard.

That Louisiana attitude.

The "what's your sign" defense.

They may have found the tomb of Odysseus in Poros on the island of Kefalonia in Greece. One goosebump-inspiring bit of evidence:
In Book XIX of the “Odyssey,” the just-returned and still disguised Odysseus tells his wife (who may or may not realize who she’s talking to; Homer is deliberately ambivalent) that he encountered Odysseus many years earlier on the island of Crete. He describes in detail a gold brooch the king wore on that occasion.

A gold brooch meeting that precise description lies now in the archeological museum at Argostoli, the main city on Kefalonia, 30 miles across the island from Poros. Other gold jewelry and seals carved in precious stones excavated from the tomb offer further proof the grave outside Poros was used to bury kings.

via Michelle's Mental Clutter.

That Lawyer Dude has a nice piece on defending murderers. Think about it: you got into the law to uphold people's rights, a valuable and meritorious career that frankly pays crap. You have to deal with less-than-desirable people on a daily basis, some of whom deserve what they're getting and others who really don't. Burn out is rampant, but you keep yourself going through those moments when you succeed in protecting someone who's really being screwed by the system, and essentially give them their life back. It's a good feeling. Then you get assigned to defend the BTK killer. How do you cope? An excerpt:
A big case is life and death. The adrenaline overflows and the work is all but consuming. Each waking hour contains snippits of time when you are thinking about the case and its ramifications. Though usually in jail, it is like your client is following you all over, asking you as you do other things, "Shouldn't you be working on my case? I am going to spend the rest of my life in here, is that haircut your getting worth more than my life?" As you study the facts the pictures and the other evidence, you think about the victims. What were they thinking at or near the end? How did they wind up there? Why did this happen to them, why did this happen to your client? . . .

The PD that defended the BTK killer, was a person. A neighbor, a customer at her local stores. But first she is a Lawyer, A Trial Lawyer. That means that she is about to undergo a decompression, a disappointment, even despair. She has stood where no other dared to stand. Next to a serial murderer, in protection of his rights under the Constitution of the United States of America. Believe me when I say that you may revile the BTK murderer, but pray for his lawyer...

Aaaand to completely change the subject: cats in sinks.

Random blurts from real-life college faculty as overheard by the Phantom Professor. My favorites:
I have two football players in that class. Surprise: I think they can read.
I got through menopause and all I could think was, "I have to buy a motorcycle."

Check out the rest.

Find a Human: A desperately needed public service. Tells you how to cut through the labyrinthian hell of automated answering systems at some major companies.

"What should I read next?"

How to cut and shuffle a deck of cards one-handed.

Russian hand-painted computer mice that look like those elaborate easter eggs. via Boing Boing.

My Rant on the Pink Locker Room Dust-Up

The issue:
A University of Iowa law professor said she has received death threats after voicing her objections over the pink visitors' locker room at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

Erin Buzuvis, 29, who moved from Boston to Iowa City to begin teaching at the law school, said she and several friends, colleagues and neighbors have been concerned for months about the message behind the locker rooms. She said the locker room promotes negative stereotypes.

Former Hawkeye football coach Hayden Fry had the visiting team's locker room painted pink in the 1970s. University officials have kept the color and expanded its use with the renovation under way at the stadium.

The carpeting, metal lockers, brick walls, sinks, shower floor -- even the urinals -- are pink.

"I've heard this is a way to honor a great coach, and Fry was a great coach," Buzuvis said. "But I don't think it does him any honor to perpetuate what is seen by many as a sexist and homophobic gesture."
The original post is here.

(Note: some people have said there were no death wishes on it. I saw several, including this one at 9:36 am):
At 9:36 PM, hayden fry said...
I hate you. The world will be a better place when you die.

Tung Yin has some thoughtful comments here addressing the merits of such comments that don't consist solely of "shave your pits," "get a bra," "go do the dishes," etc. He analyzes whether this is a valid critique of Fry, given his background and other accomplishments, whether she's wasting her bandwidth, etc.

The Register chastises commenters for leaving death wishes instead of civil debate.

Iowa Voice believes it's a non-issue that's attracting too much attention.

State 29 wonders why she just didn't delete the offending comments in the first place.

Of course, I can't stay out of this one.

So here's the deal:

1) Yes, the locker room was painted pink because it's a calming color. But also because it's a "girly" color, as Hayden Fry is openly quoted as saying.

2) Does everyone think of the color in that way? I doubt it. I know lots of big guys who wear pink. But it is traditionally a feminine color.

3) Was the decor specifically intended as a slam to women? No, the intent was to demoralize the other team, and psych them out if possible.

4) Is it in fact insulting to women? A backhanded insult, because it was directed at men. But yes, it is an insulting implication: hang around a "girly" color long enough and it will siphon away your masculinity and render you helpless.

5) To gays? If you equate being homosexual with femininity, sure. Given some of the homosexual guys I know, I'm not so sure that's a proven point. Yes, some of them are quite "femme." Others . . . well, no way in hell would you describe them that way. At least, not if you wanted to live for a little while longer. So do the two equate? Absent research to the contrary, I'd say to many people they are equivalent, at least as a stereotype. Whenever homosexual males are portrayed in a superficial manner onstage or on film, it's almost invariably a feminine man with a lisp, walking with a swish and a limp wrist. I'd argue it's common enough to support the premise that the implied message behind the color extends to gay men as well as women.

6) Does this mean Hayden Fry was a horrible, sexist person? No, and she never said that. It simply means he intentionally used a stereotypical attitude to his advantage on the field. That's it. In her opinion, that's enough to look at repainting the locker rooms. In my opinion, given the circumstances and facts, I think it's rather a non-issue. But she's within her rights to raise it. As Tung Yin's post points out, as a public figure his actions are open to critique. He did some good things, he did some bad and/or stupid things. He's not a saint and decidedly not immune to criticism, as anyone who recalls his last few seasons should know.

7) Does the continued use of the pink paint harm women and gays? Harder to quantify, as the implication of the color is an oblique insult, not a direct one. I would think it is only enough to support - not strengthen - those stereotypical attitudes already held, and not enough to convert non-sexist, non-homophobes into prejudiced people who expect all women to be barefoot and pregnant and all gay men to be flaming. In other words, while she has a point, I don't think it's enough of a point that I'd require repainting the locker rooms.

8) Aren't there much better uses of her time? This needs a much longer answer:
First, if a person is silent when slapped with a label, it is generally taken as acceptance. As a member of the class implicitly labeled as weak, she has the right to speak up. Second, as far as the relative importance of a pink locker room versus many overt and/or violent acts against women or homosexuals: well, who are we to tell her which subjects she should or should not be interested in? Yes, there are probably better uses of her time, and of mine. There's still poverty, war and a bunch of other pretty major issues. But it's her time to use, just like this is mine. I blog about inane crap all the time, but hey, it's my blog and my opinions. And in my own inane opinion, I believe all prejudiced attitudes should be examined and discussed. "Know thyself" is one of the most awesome goals.

Note that all this rhetoric about examining prejudices wherever they exist doesn't mean you want to change all prejudiced behavior. To take a somewhat less controversial example: there are certain neighborhoods in Chicago I would never walk down alone at night. Period. No exceptions. Is that prejudiced against the type of inner-city, poor, people of color that live there? Oh, yeah. Definitely. I'm operating on a preconceived idea I could be attacked and harmed without even meeting these people or knowing their names. Am I going to stop engaging in this racist, economist, behavior? I somehow don't foresee that happening, given the risks assumed.

To sum: I don't think this was a waste of her time. She's interested in the topic, has a right to be interested, and has a legitimate point to make. That doesn't mean I agree that the walls should be repainted, but rather that the idea of repainting the walls should be discussed.

9) Should she just have deleted the inflammatory comments? Okay, I'm not going to censor the language on this one, primarily because there's no point since I'm going to use direct quotes from the comments. So, to get on with it:

Sorry, State, I've got to disagree with you here. But for a different reason than you might think. Random disturbing comments I delete with pleasure, as I do comment spam. But these particular remarks actually served to make EBuz's point better than her original piece. Some real gems:
We'll all form a line stretching up Melrose and charge $1 to kick you in the box. Proceeds will be donated to the Society for the Oppression of Dumb Cunts Like You.

Shut your pie hole or we will send Pierre after you.

Why don't you take your arms off frmo around that tree of yours, shave your arm pits and go buy a bra.

I'd love to lay you down and cock-stab you in the ovaries.

I bet if put a piece of coal down your chute you'd have a diamond in an hour. For christ sake, get some cock already!!!

Excuse me, I normally don't use crass language on this blog, but what the hell is with all this misogynistic crap? These small-minded, vitriolic sad substitutes for rational debate show the hatred against women that apparently still exists, far better than any pink locker room ever could. They underscore that while we would all like to believe that sexism is a dead issue, an ugly undercurrent apparently persists even in as enlightened an area as Iowa City. Yes, the commenters have a right to express their "opinion," such as it is. And I have the right to lambast them for being misogynist idiots cowering behind the veil of anonymity because they know damn well how offensive, childish, and wrong they are. (Notice not one of the comments I quoted involved a real name, URL or email.)

I would argue that while EBuz may have been majoring in minors, the fact it stirred up this type of debate shows that it is obviously precisely the type of rhetoric necessary to lure this particular beast out of hiding and, with any luck, verbally beat it into submission.

UPDATE: It appears EBuz's blog is AWOL as of today (09/27). I hope it's not gone for good. I may have disagreed with her conclusions, but this whole blog thing works best if everybody's viewpoint gets a voice, and whether or not you agree with her politics, her reasoning was logical and well thought-out. I'd hate to see comment trolls kill a blog.


Well, she got comments alright.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Is this Heaven? . . . Nevermind.

Looking at this Des Moines Register column, you have to wonder whether somebody's been rereading Shoeless Joe?
When I look at Iowa's recent political landscape, I see mostly solid, earnest types who try to do right by their constituents but would hardly capture the imagination of the nation's youth. Maybe that's why I'm pulling for the implausible Coralville rainforest project. If businessman Ted Townsend and his group succeed, it would send the message that just about anything is possible in Iowa.

Okay, let's try it:
Ray, people will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn off I-80 not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at the ticket booth of your 20-story foil-enclosed caterpillar as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the suspended wooden bridges 100 feet in the air; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere in yourIMAX-style theater in a kind of prairie-meets-the-Amazon setting, like the one where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the millions of insects creeping and crawling around in every layer of the rainforest,
and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been rainforests. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But rainforests have marked the time. This giant caterpillar, these bugs: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.

Hmmm . . . doesn't work for me.

Hat tip: Iowa PorkForest.

Backstage Scoop

I've got some Baal photos up. Yes, Matt, you can put them on Dreamwell's website, too.

Fixed 'em. Apparently Yahoo photos don't play nicely with Blogger the way MSN does. No clue why.

Monday Quiz

You Are A: Pony!

ponyWho doesn't love a pony? You are one of these miniature horses, renown for your beauty and desired by many. Full of grace, you are a beautiful and very special animal, with a long, flowing mane that blows in the breeze.

You were almost a: Puppy or a Frog
You are least like a: Turtle or a GroundhogThe Cute Animals Quiz

Friday, September 23, 2005

Slightly Disconcerting

Seeing a google for your name appear as the referrer in your statistics tracker - with the URL of the visitor labeled as from a local newspaper.


You Are Likely a First Born
At your darkest moments, you feel guilty.
At work and school, you do best when you're researching.
When you love someone, you tend to agree with them often.

In friendship, you are considerate and compromising.
Your ideal careers are: business, research, counseling, promotion, and speaking.
You will leave your mark on the world with discoveries, new information, and teaching people to dream.

Friday Quiz

You are a

Social Liberal
(61% permissive)

and an...

Economic Moderate
(56% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Via a whole bunch of people

Notes from the Morning Break

Okay, I know you have the room cold this morning on the theory it keeps people awake for the last day of CLE's. (Employment law, spoliation of evidence, and ethics. Yee hah.) I brought a warm sweater because I am not exactly new at this. But you have the room so damn freezing that my hands hurt despite being pulled six inches back into my sleeves, my nose has that "healthy puppy" cold wetness, and I'm on my fifth cup of coffee - way over my caffiene limit for the morning. I'm getting pissy and hyped at the same time: do you really think this is a wise combination?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Don't Get Stuck on Stupid

A new catchphrase has been born.


Google boolean search tips.

There's a bunch of ancient swordfighting manuals online. I've been watching the guys in Macbeth, who have it totally down already. The final fight scene is going to be seriously awesome.

Did you know the dead sea scrolls were also online?

These photos have been confirmed by Urban Legends as accurate. The site points out that we can't extrapolate from their accuracy any relative value judgments, which is true. Maybe the only thing the dog rescuers had was a luxury bus. Maybe there weren't any people left in the area from where the dogs were being taken out. It still looks really bad, though.


Okay, if these people can get a grant, what's our excuse?

Attorneys for Debra LaFave are trying to block the release of intimate photographs taken by police of the ex-teacher accused of sex with a student. Release to who? Why? Like this is essential public information? (Yes, I know. Many guys would argue the point. They're wrong. Go get a playboy and quit whining.)

The Hooters Handbook

Smoking Gun has a copy of the Hooter's Employee Handbook.

Thou shalt wear only Suntan pantyhose with your approved orange shorts (??WTF??), over which you must wear white slouch socks. No other color of pantyhose shalt be worn, and no bare legs.

(Okay, like, the 80's called. They want their slouchy socks and suntan pantyhose back. The jelly shoes and big hair just aren't the same without them. Oh, and Dickwad? You never wore them together. What kind of male fashion faux pas fantasyland is this hellhole?)

Forget having a beady or choker necklace, a ponytail, or long nails.

Oh, and while showing your cleavage up top is encouraged, they apparently don't want to be seeing anything of the buttocks. Daisy Dukes are right out.

(Guys? Did they ask your vote on this one? It seems a tad weird to me.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

You Been Called

The lead paragraphs from August 25th:
Mark the calendar. For those following a planned $180 million enclosed rain forest, Sept. 20 will be a date to make or break the project.

During a work session late Tuesday night, city councilors set a four-week deadline for leaders of The Environmental Project to respond to a draft land transfer agreement.

The agreement would make the transfer of more than 20 acres of city-owned land southeast of Interstate 80 and First Avenue contingent on a number of requirements. These include holding project leaders to the basic specifications of a 4.5-acre enclosed rain forest, a 1 million gallon aquarium and an outdoor performance venue, among others.

It also would set timeline and fund-raising requirements, with all funds and contracts in place six months after the land is transferred. In addition, it would tie strings to a $50 million Department of Energy grant, preventing the project from using the money in a location other than Coralville.

For project leaders, meeting the Sept. 20 deadline to return with comments and concerns on the agreement or an alternate proposal will be critical. On Wednesday, councilor John Lundell said if the deadline was not met, he would join councilors Tom Gill and Jean Schnake in calling for a different use for the land -- making a majority of the City Council willing to break with the project.

So, here we are. September 20th. And the "project leader's" response?
David Oman, Environ-mental Project executive director, declined to identify when his group would respond to the draft.

"We will finish it when we finish it," he said. "There are issues that need additional attention."

Mr. Lundell, you've been called. Time for you, Mr. Gill, and Ms. Schnake to throw down. The other councilmembers are nothing but wafflers:
City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said the deadline was not set in stone. "The council's point was that they wanted it as soon as possible," Hayworth said, adding that he expects something in writing from project heads this week. . . .

Mayor Jim Fausett said he believes the draft has served to focus talks between the city and the Environmental Project.

"I think we're making progress," he said. "I feel good. I feel that both sides are making a real conscious effort."

Excuse me, Mr. Fausett, but what part of "we'll get to it when we get to it" sounds like a conscious effort to do anything but tell the city to take a flying leap into hell and stop bothering him? Keep in mind, Oman didn't say this to you in a private conversation couched in reassurances that he's doing his best. He said it to the press, on the record, in quotes: "We will finish it when we finish it." No diplomacy, no effort to sound conciliatory - conscious or not. "We will finish it when we finish it." That's about as blatant a kiss-off as it gets.

The call's been made, it's public and it's pointed. Time for the Coralville city council to show where their loyalties lie, if for no other reason than to remove their own necks from this rapidly-tightening political noose. Do you really want to be the politicians who spent $180 million on a fake rainforest in Iowa when the city of New Orleans lies in ruins, our gasoline is topping $2 per gallon, and the war in Iraq is costing us lots of our spare cash? No matter which side of the political fence you ride, your constituents are going to hate you if you keep this one up. I'm not kidding.

One of the most important lessons to learn is when to get the h*ll off the waterskis. That would have been 2004, but we'll forgive you if you walk away now and act like you had doubts about the project the whole time.

Of course, you could always take the theatrical approach: everybody walk into the next council meeting wearing towels, and pretend you just walked out of the shower to discover all of last year was a dream. I wouldn't recommend it, though.

Talk Like a Pirate Day

the international holiday that everyone can celebrate, regardless of religious belief. Iowa City had it covered.

Murh Deadline?

By the way, as I understand it today's the deadline for Allen Muth to file his appeal from the 7th Circuit decision upholding his incest conviction despite Lawrence v. Texas.

The case is of interest to me as an example of slippery slope logic: does legalizing homosexual intercourse lead to decriminalizing incestual intercourse, and legitimizing homosexual and/or polygamous marriage, etc.? (Human sacrifice, dogs and cats, living together... mass hysteria!)

Proponents of gay marriage try to draw logical distinctions between the polygamous and the monogamous by defining marriage not as a contract but a recognition of societal status. Muth's case is more difficult to distinguish, but can be written off as a minor aberration not justifying the tanking of Lawrence:
The quest by some to portray Lawrence as an apocalyptic harbinger of doom rather than a modest step toward basic legal dignity for gays will no doubt continue for some time, despite the fact that Lawrence has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with gay marriage, "Don't Ask - Don't Tell," gay parenting or any of the other various challenges gays still face, let alone questions of polygamy, incest, or other "slippery slope" bogeymen that bigots seem to be eager to find around every corner.

And even if one accepts that there might be inevitable non-gay consequences that will flow from Lawrence, is it really necessary or proper to continue arguing against the basic legal dignities of millions of gays out of fear of what a minute handful of individuals might do as a result of their own dysfunctionality or for mere shock value?

To a point, this is correct. Lawrence does not legalize gay marriage, polygamy, or any other kind of marital state. All it said was that the government couldn't make a particular type of consensual sex illegal. However, the logical doorway does stand ajar. Listen to the interesting rational-basis language of Lawrence:
"The case does involve two adults who, with full and mutual consent from each other, engaged in sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle. The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government. . . . The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual."

Draw all the arbitrary lines you wish, but this analysis appears to make it logically inevitable that it is just as unconstitutional to criminalize "private sexual conduct" other cases, particuarly as Lawrence carefully refrained from creating a protected class of homosexuals.

I don't pretend expertise on slippery slopes, I'm just interested in the topic. For a really long, but very, very good article on the topic, read Eugene Volokh's article in the Harvard Law Review (a draft version kindly made available online here.) He tracks different types of slippery slopes, historical examples of the argument in action (remember when officials only wanted to limit kid's access to cigarette machines, and were quick to deny any attempt to make smoking in public illegal?), and so on.

If nothing else, it's an interesting logical experiment. On this particular slope, slippery or not, incest and gay marriage appear to jostle for the next logical step down. On the one hand, constitutional issues regarding criminalization of incestual sex seems fairly closely analagous to Lawrence, but the incest prohibitions do carry genetic consequences which may justify continued criminalization under a rational basis analysis, if the Court chooses to stick to that test. On the other hand, gay marriage requires altering the definition of marriage from a monogamous heterosexual union (albiet within certain consanguinity boundaries) to a "monogamous hetero- or homosexual union." That's a bigger leap, in that it affects far more than consensual adult bedroom gymnastics. So which will come first, or both, or neither?

(Side Question: if you tried legalizing gay marriage without incest, would the same consanguinity rules apply to homosexual marriages? Given no genetic offspring are possible, why or why not?)

Meme Time

Via Aprille:
I know some people find these tiresome, but I really enjoy it when other people post them. So feel free to copy it from me and do it yourself. I like learning more about my friends. Come to think of it, I like learning more about my enemies, too. It helps me defend myself with knowledge.

1) What color are your kitchen plates? A French bistro scene ceramic for everyday use, standard issue white-with-gold-rim for nicey-nicey.
2) What book are you reading now? I just bought C’est La Vie, just finished Wide Sargasso Sea, and have been re-reading Devil in the White City on the side. I left my new/used copy of The Shipping News at Dreamwell, so I'll have to get that back. Oh, and a couple of scripts.
3) What’s on your mouse pad? Nada. Just a nice green color.
4) What’s your favorite board game? Cranium. Trivial Pursuit is a close second.
5) Favorite magazine? Chick magazines: Glamour, Cosmo, Vogue. Ya wanna make something of it?
6) Favorite smell? Coffee, the ocean, beagle ears (don't ask), and the skin of someone I love.
7) Least favorite smell? Cedar Rapids. Or manure-spreading season. Whichever.
8) What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? How long can I go back to sleep?
9) Favorite color(s)? Black, purpley-mauve, chocolate brown, forest green.
10) Least favorite color? Salmon or that icky puke green.
11) How many rings before you answer the phone? If home phone: never. That's only for telemarketers. Cell, it depends: am I late? Driving? Avoiding you? How full is my purse?
12) Future child’s name? No clue. I stopped picking them out when it began to seem like the hypothetical child would never materialize.
13) Chocolate or Vanilla? CHOCOLATE. Omigod, is that even a question???
14) Do you like to drive fast? Zoom, zoom, zoom. I actually scare people.
15) Do you sleep with a stuffed animal? No, if I want the furry cuddling in bed, I've got a live dog and cat more than happy to lick or paw every available appendage.
16) Thunderstorms: cool or scary? Cool, so long as you're at home and safe. Not so cool when paddling on Lake Superior, driving, or in airplanes.
17) What type was your first car? A red ford Escort. It killed a BMW (her fault). It got through snow drifts that sidelined a Saab. I'm not sure, but I think it was possessed.
18) If you could meet one person dead or alive, who would it be? Define "meet"? If it is "have one visit of unspecified duration, potentially forever if you really hit it off," then I want my mom back. If it's meet up for ten minutes, I'd go with Queen Elizabeth I. She played some kick-ass political games back in the day, and was wicked intelligent, and I've always wanted to see what she'd have to say about stuff these days.
19) Favorite alcoholic drink? Right now, Mojitas, Tanqueray and tonic, Blue Moon, or a nice Pinot Noir or Grigio.
20) What is your sign and your birthday? Capricorn: December 31. Technically, I'm a goat. Chinese zodiac: Sheep. There's no escaping the boring cud-chewing farm animal for me.
21) Do you eat the stems of broccoli? Why not? Is there some sort of taboo I've not heard about?
22) If you could have any job, what would it be? Travel writer with a kick-ass expense account, or a wealthy actress whose make-up artist is so awesome that no-one recognizes her offstage so she's free to walk around utterly unmolested.
23) If you could have any color hair, what would it be? Once, I saw this girl with amazing hair - it was brown with gold highlights and some coppery red that's so incredibly shiny. I was only, like, twelve, so I was too shy to ask her what she did to it. But I've been working on perfecting it since.
24) Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Depends: is it filling or draining?
25) Favorite TYPE of movie? Action/adventure comedy with romance thrown in. Little bit of everything.
26) Do you type with your fingers on the right keys? Absolutely, with the exception of the numeric keys and the fact I only space bar with my right thumb.
27) What’s under your bed? Books, clothes, my cat, and a baseball bat.
28) What is your favorite number? Of what?
29) Favorite sport to watch? On television: football or basketball, but only Iowa or Chicago teams. In person, I like baseball, but just about anything is fun if you give me enough beer.
30) What is your single biggest fear? Pain.
31) Say one thing about the person who sent this to you. I copied it from Aprille, an awesome actress who could make anybody laugh, and was really cool to work with.
32) Person most unlikely to respond to this? Respond how? By commenting? Nelle. By posting? Nobody.
33) Favorite CD? Right now I'm listening to my own mixy goodness, but it's mostly acoustic - some Ani DiFranco, Anna Nahlick, Sheryl Crowe, Indigo Girls and Susan Greenbaum with a bunch of things from local artists Dalziel and Coriander thrown in.
34) Favorite TV Show? Right now I TIVO Battlestar Galactica and Sex in the City. I'm a geek, but a sexy geek.
35) Ketchup or mustard? Neither. Icky.
36) Hamburgers or hot dogs? Either one, depending on my mood. Medium rare on the burger, smoked and grilled on the hot dog, with no frou-frou on either.
37) Favorite soft drink? Coke with Lime. Diet, usually, since I have to be good to look good.
38) The best place you have ever been? Berlin was awesome. I love beaches and adventures and stuff, but nothing compares to the history. I really want to go back to Europe.
39) What screen saver is on your computer right now? Isla Mujeres photos from my last vacation. I do like beaches . . .
40) Burger King or McDonalds? For french fries or a fish sandwich (plain, no cheese or frou frou) McDonald's. For a burger (again, no frou frou. Okay, sometimes cheese.) Wendy's.
42) What did you want to be when you were little? Everything. I remember asking my mom how to spell archeologist when I added it to my list. I was six at the time. I also wanted to be a singer, dancer, actress, writer, veterinarian, horseback rider, and gymnast. I'd have to pull out the "book about me" to remember the rest of them. I believe there was an entire page list. You wonder why I had such trouble choosing a major?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Linkyness, Ye Hearties

It's Talk Like a Pirate Day! (Side note: this could make Macbeth rehearsals just that much more interesting. . . )

20 thin's they don't tell ye

Blawgreview #24, ye scurvy dawgs.

Avast! That's one fiery swab. via Sugar Mr. Poon

Ahoy to!

Who ye goin' t' call?

Time t' brin' out t' eye patch.

Time t' brin' out t' eye patch Part II.

If you hire a hitman, don't call t' police t' complain when he doesn't do t' job.

A review from me last show.

Boing Boing has a "best of" review. Oh, um, and ahoy. Avast. Okay, whatever.

Avast! A Quiz!

And it involves alcohol and drinking stories.

Can't I Be a Mojita

You Are a Mai Tai
You aren't a big drinker, but you'll drink if the atmosphere is festive.
And when you're drunk, watch out! You're easily carried away.

For those few who don't know: The Mojita reference regards a cast party Saturday with rather copious amounts of that particular wonderful concoction. After which, I somehow thought it a fun idea to climb a tree at a friend's house while in a skirt and three-inch heeled boots. (I was successful, for the record. I just can't figure out why I wanted to.)

I also had various other adventures, most of which are the "you had to be there" variety. Let's just say I had a lot of fun. And thank God I don't drunkblog. What was up with those clocks, anyway?

Seriously, I'm going to miss all you guys and I hope we get to party act together again soon. I don't intend to retire the fetishwear completely. . . .

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Update - Theater Stuff I'm Doing

Last weekend to see Baal!
by Bertolt Brecht
directed by Janet Bentley
September 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 2005

This classic play chronicles the shameless, voracious pursuit of total pleasure and sensual self-fulfillment by Baal, a young artist. His companionship with Ekart, a complex love-hate relationship that is at times erotic, nurturing, violent, and indifferent, explores the consequences of hedonism.

Note: Brecht plays are difficult, deep, and dark. Many people come out of them wondering what the heck just happened. Don't expect a straightforward, spoon-fed play here.

I'd also mention this one has very adult topics on sex and stuff. No actual nudity, but there are some unique fashion statements. . . .

A scene I wrote is going to be performed as part of City Circle's New Play Festival:
Second Annual
New Play Festival 2005
Uberdirected by Dave Helmuth

Part One:
September 30, Oct 1 & 2 (this is when my scene goes up)
Part Two:
Oct 7, 8 & 9

"Seasons Change"
A couple try to address the details of their life as one faces an uncertain future.

(My note: uncertain future?? I suppose, in one sense. I'd argue it is not so much that they are uncertain about what the future holds, more that they are uncertain about their own ability to handle a future they know is rather inevitable. If you want to read the scene and decide for yourself, go here.).

On Golden Pond:

On Golden Pond

By Ernest Thompson

Directed By Jason Hedden

The heartwarming and hilarious celebration of everyday struggles and ultimate triumphs of life, love, and family as 3 generations try to bridge the gaps.

Performed at the Exhibit Hall on the Johnson County 4H Fairgrounds

October 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23

For tickets, contact the ICCT box office at (319) 338-0443.

Moongarden Acting Company will be doing Macbeth:

directed by Michael Sokoloff

Abraham Peterka as Macbeth
Paula Grady as Lady Macbeth

October 28, 29 & November 4, 5
at the Iowa City Community Theatre building.

Curtain 8pm

I get to play Lady MacDuff, and get killed in Scene 4. It's going to be intense, very violent, and really, really cool.

Fresh Law

The Iowa Court of Appeals has posted its latest decisions.

How Appealing notes the evictions are underway for the Kelo plaintiffs.

SCOTUSBlog is all over the Roberts hearings.

An interesting debate over at Volokh regarding the Missouri Attorney General's lawsuit against the racist post-Katrina fundraisers. Includes a link to the complaint and some caselaw. My question: if a race-restricted charity is illegal per se, how do they make an exception for things like the United Negro College Fund?

Speaking of racism, there's this post on TalkLeft: A lawsuit filed today alleges that Tyson Foods, Inc. is responsible for maintaining a segregated bathroom and break room, reminiscent of the Jim Crow era, in its Ashland, Alabama chicken processing plant. Twelve African-American employees filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, alleging that a “Whites Only” sign and a padlock denied them access to a bathroom in the Ashland plant.

Roger Bentley's lawyers apparently think Council Bluffs is either more defendant-friendly or less well-read than Davanport.

By the way, is it just me or do the legal posts on Des Moines Craigslist violate a bunch of Iowa advertising ethics rules, particularly the one requiring the long-winded disclaimer?

Okay, what does it say about us as a nation if we have to specify? "Officials: Donate new underwear"

UPDATE: Round II of the Pledge of Allegience litigation has officially started. Newdow is sidetracked, but the rest of the plaintiffs are not.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Now they tell me . . .

Your Career Type: Artistic
You are expressive, original, and independent.
Your talents lie in your artistic abilities: creative writing, drama, crafts, music, or art.

You would make an excellent:

Actor - Art Teacher - Book Editor
Clothes Designer - Comedian - Composer
Dancer - DJ - Graphic Designer
Illustrator - Musician - Sculptor

The worst career options for your are conventional careers, like bank teller or secretary.

via ILG. Check out her "worst career options." D'oh.

Public Service Announcement

From the Iowa City Police Department:
Officers will conduct traffic enforcement throughout the city. Special attention will be given to the following locations.

Radar Locations for September 2005:
1900-2400 blocks Sycamore
2800-3400 blocks Muscatine Ave.
2300-3200 blocks Friendship
600-1000 blocks East Benton

For more information, please contact Sergeant Doug Hart at 319-356-5293.

Idle speculation: Do you think he'd give out a more specific schedule, with dates and shift changes, if asked? Something tells me that's not in the picture, but it could be fun to ask.

This Has "Lifetime Movie of the Week" Written all Over It

How Appealing noted "A Texas college student sold her eggs so they could be fertilized and implanted in a surrogate. That's enough involvement to let her claim parental rights for the resulting triplets, according to a court ruling issued Wednesday."

Here's some excerpts from the 9th Ohio District Court of Appeals ruling:
Appellee James O. Flynn (“Flynn”), Appellee/Cross-Appellant Jennifer Rice (“Rice”), and Appellant/Cross-Appellee Danielle Bimber (“Bimber”) entered into a surrogacy contract whereby Bimber would serve as a surrogate mother for Flynn and Rice’s children. Flynn, a resident of Ohio, was not involved in a romantic relationship with Rice, a resident of Texas, or Bimber, a resident of Pennsylvania; both women were contacted through a surrogacy agency and compensated by Flynn. Sperm was collected from Flynn and used to fertilize eggs collected from Rice, which created embryos that were inseminated in Bimber at University Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. As a result of the in vitro fertilization, Bimber became pregnant and gave birth to triplets. The parentage, possession, and custody of the triplets have been contested since their births.

In her sole cross-assignment of error, Rice has argued that the trial court erred when it ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to review the Bimbers’ rights with regard to the triplets. Specifically, Rice has argued that the trial court was not bound to give full faith and credit to the Pennsylvania court’s decision because it did not comply with the jurisdictional requirements of giving notice and an opportunity to be heard. We agree.

The decision to give full faith and credit to another state’s court decisions is a legal question. The statute mandates that “[b]efore a child custody or visitation determination is made, reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard shall be given to the contestants, any parent whose parental rights have not been previously terminated and any person who has physical custody of a child.” 28 U.S.C. 1738A(e). Contestant “means a person, including a parent or grandparent, who claims a right to custody or visitation of a child [.]” 28 U.S.C. 1738A (b)(2).

It is undisputed that at the time of the April 2, 2004 Pennsylvania decision that found Bimber the legal mother of the triplets, Rice’s parental rights as the genetic/biological mother had not been previously terminated. Accordingly, pursuant to federal and Pennsylvania law, Rice was entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard on the issue before the Pennsylvania court. Further, under 28 U.S.C. 1738A, full faith and credit is due only if the statute is followed.

We find that as the genetic/biological mother, in a proceeding where the surrogacy contract was found void, Rice should have been notified and provided an opportunity to be heard by the Pennsylvania court. After finding the surrogacy contract void, the Pennsylvania court could not ignore the rights of the Rice. It was undisputed that Bimber did not have any genetic connection to the triplets. It appears the Pennsylvania court’s opinion was inconsistent; the court refused to honor the surrogacy contract, but did not allow Rice any rights because she was just the egg donor and was not “consider[ed] *** to be a party” to the matter determining the parentage and parenting of the triplets. We find that the Pennsylvania court’s failure to properly notify Rice and allow her to participate in the proceedings allows Ohio courts to decline to give full faith and credit to the April 2, 2004 Pennsylvania journal entry. As such, the Ohio courts are not bound by the April 2, 2004 Pennsylvania decision.

[T]he trial court properly found Rice and Flynn to be the genetic parents of the triplets, but it erred in not completing the second portion of the Belsito test. The trial court should conduct a hearing to determine if Rice and/or Flynn waived or relinquished their parental rights. Bimbers’ second assignment of error has merit.

The decision of the trial court is reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Gotta love family law.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I Am the Obsolete Color of the Rainbow

Your Power Color Is Indigo
At Your Highest:

You are on a fast track to success - and others believe in you.

At Your Lowest:

You require a lot of attention and praise.

In Love:

You see people as how you want them to be, not as how they are.

How You're Attractive:

You're dramatic flair makes others see you as mysterious and romantic.

Your Eternal Question:

"Does This Work Into My Future Plans?"

Around the 'Net

Dictionaraoke: Audio clips from online dictionaries sing the hits of yesterday and today. The fun of karaoke meets the word power of the dictionary. My favorite so far: .

Talk like a Pirate Day is coming soon. Have you got your reading material yet?

Technology update: now you can cop a feel long distance.

Weird-ass website of the day. Be sure to check out the "click here to leave" link. Too cruel.

Somebody spent a lot of time on this headline. I'm thinking they called up a bunch of friends and read it to them before submitting it. Then called the local bar and asked to speak to Heywood Jablowme, just to make it a well-rounded day.

In case you're wondering, there's nothing cuter than a beagle puppy.

Interesting ideas from Gizmodo: Pizza Vending Machines and some sort of medieval dive mask. Maybe we could use the masks in MacBeth? Also, laser-sighted slingshots.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Clearing out the links:

Emergency couturewear via Anywhere but Here.

Blawging lawyer interviews

When you wish upon a star . . .

An analysis on whether punishment works.

Thank goodness she didn't get the full pedicure.

The Daily Iowan looks at UI cyber classes. I'm tempted to take a course or two. Meanwhile, the Iowa City public library has some downloadable books online. Way cool.

Blawg Review 23 is up at Preaching to the Perverted.

I wonder if this would have helped Katrina survivors with the drinking water shortage problem. Is it that powerful? If so, shouldn't people stock one in their emergency kits?

How Appealing notes: The Las Vegas couple accused of planting a human finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili pleaded guilty Friday in a San Jose courtroom to all of the charges against them. So sorry they won't be collecting on their threatened suit: "Ayala never imagined what damage she would cause when "the whole scheme was concocted" to plant the fingertip -- which Placencia had bought from a co-worker injured in an industrial accident -- and then sue Wendy's."

Discuss: The goddess of Justice is depicted blindfolded and holding a scale. But if she's blindfolded, how does she know which pan of the scale is heavier than the other?

Cat burglar.

In case you were wondering: why do you blog?

Who filed this suit, Homer Simpson?

Probable answer to this question:only if they're dogs.

L-cubed is closing up shop.

Just what we need . . . a new tort.

Side Notes has a bunch of linky things posted.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Katrina Updates

Hurricane Katrina: Blog for Relief Weekend has raised $ 1,198,109 in contributions so far.

Thank you, everybody!!!

Meanwhile, the whole looting vs. finding issue has taken a new twist, with this news from Houston. Excerpt:
In an extreme act of looting, one group actually stole a bus to escape ravaged areas in Louisiana.

About 100 people packed into the stolen bus. They were the first to enter the Houston Astrodome, but they weren't exactly welcomed.

The big yellow school bus wasn't expected or approved to pass through the stadium's gates. Randy Nathan, who was on the bus, said they were desperate to get out of town.

"If it werent for him right there," he said, "we'd still be in New Orleans underwater. He got the bus for us."

Eighteen-year-old Jabbor Gibson jumped aboard the bus as it sat abandoned on a street in New Orleans and took control.

"I just took the bus and drove all the way hours straight,' Gibson admitted. "I hadn't ever drove a bus."

The teen packed it full of complete strangers and drove to Houston. He beat thousands of evacuees slated to arrive there.

Boing Boing has a link to the video.

The whole net is buzzing at the idea this kid could be charged with a felony instead of proclaimed a hero.

A follow-up from the Houston Chronicle corrects his name and age, and wisely refrains from using the l-word, as it appears the police told him he could take the bus:
The first busload of New Orleans refugees to reach the Reliant Astrodome overnight was a group of people who commandeered a school bus in the city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and drove to Houston looking for shelter.

Jabbar Gibson, 20, said police in New Orleans told him and others to take the school bus and try to get out of the flooded city.

It should also be noted that his actions don't appear to fit the LA definition of theft, because there's no evidence he intended to deprive the city of the bus:

§67. Theft
A. Theft is the misappropriation or taking of anything of value which belongs to another, either without the consent of the other to the misappropriation or taking, or by means of fraudulent conduct, practices, or representations. An intent to deprive the other permanently of whatever may be the subject of the misappropriation or taking is essential.
B.(1) Whoever commits the crime of theft when the misappropriation or taking amounts to a value of five hundred dollars or more shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than ten years, or may be fined not more than three thousand dollars, or both.

It does appear that if they got nasty, they could charge him with possession of a stolen vehicle, if they can prove he knew it was "unlawfully taken." I'd argue under these circumstances that the mens rea is absent.
§724. Transfer and possession of stolen vehicles
Any person who, with intent to procure or pass title to a vehicle which he knows or has reason to believe has been stolen or unlawfully taken, received, or transfers possession of the same from one to another, or who has in his possession any vehicle which he knows or has reason to believe has been stolen or unlawfully taken, and who is not an officer of the law engaged at the time in the performance of his duty as such officer, is guilty of a felony.
Acts 1950, No. 342, §27.

(Odd things you learn with legal research: Louisiana has a specific statute covering theft of an alligator. I guess general statutes just wouldn't do for that one.)

It seems the major levee break has been plugged, and the cleanup effort is slowly getting underway.
Mayor Ray Nagin said after an aerial tour that about 60 percent of the city was under water, down from 80 percent during the darkest hours last week.

"We are starting to see some significant progress. I'm starting to see rays of light," he said.

Nagin said it would take three weeks to remove the water and another few weeks to clear the debris. It could also take up to eight weeks to get the electricity back on.

Still, he warned that what awaits authorities below the toxic muck would be gruesome. A day earlier, he said the death toll in New Orleans could reach 10,000.

NOLA is still posting pleas for rescue, and has added an "I'm Okay" forum, and a section where you can ask "what happened to my neighborhood?"

An excerpt from an email I received from my friends Danette and Mark:
We are very grateful to be alive and happy that we got out. However, we are shocked, and deeply saddened by everything that is happening in New Orleans. We only lived there for 6 years, but feel very connected. We miss our many brave friends going through all of this, too. We hope to find out the status of our house soon.

I cannot tell you how touched we have been by people's generosity. A complete stranger paid for our hotel room in Wichita, KS. We did not even know that they paid until after they were gone. Many others have donated clothes and toys for the girls. Anyways, please keep in touch and I will let you all know where we are headed.

Friday, September 09, 2005

I get it - this is all for my own good:

Women with high levels of stress in their everyday lives are at less risk than others of developing breast cancer for the first time, according to research in the British Medical Journal published on Friday.

Fresh Law

Two new opinions from the Iowa Supreme Court.

The short version:
Question: If a business broker does nothing more than inform a buyer that the business is for sale, a fact which the buyer knew anyway, is that a sufficient causal connection between the sale and the brokerage's efforts to support the granting of commission to the brokerage under the extension clause on the listing contract, if the business sells within the year following the expiration of the contract? Answer: Nope.
We adopt the majority rule and hold that a broker seeking to recover under an extension clause must establish some causal connection between the broker’s efforts and the eventual sale. This might include negotiations between the parties or actual assistance in the closing of the sale. In this case, Hawkeye has not shown it was involved in any negotiations or the closing of the sale. As the Nebraska court said in Chapman, a rule that would allow recovery for merely soliciting a buyer without requiring a causal connection with the sale would burden the owner’s right to dispose of his property.

Question: If a creditor checks the United States Postal Service (USPS) city-county directory before filing suit against a debtor, and on it's information files suit in the wrong county, is this a sufficient enough "procedure reasonably adapted to avoid the error" to preclude the debtor from prevailing on a suit against the creditor under the provisions of Iowa's consumer protection law, § 537.5113, on the basis of a bona-fine mistake? Answer: Yep.
We conclude substantial evidence exists to support the district court’s findings that the petition in this case was filed in the wrong county unintentionally, as the result of a bona fide error. Substantial evidence also exists that the action was filed in the wrong county notwithstanding the maintenance of a procedure reasonably adapted to avoid this error. All the elements of the bona fide error defense under Iowa Code section 537.5201(7) are satisfied. Therefore, Chrysler cannot be held liable for a violation of the consumer credit code.

Streit, Ternus, and Wiggins dissented, though, on the grounds that the city-county directory is too inaccurate:
Chrysler’s procedures were not “reasonably adapted” to avoid suing defendants in wrong venues. Merely looking at the USPS directory, looking up what county a city is located in, will inevitably fail too often to be “reasonably adapted.” Chrysler’s attorney’s secretary (hereinafter “Chrysler’s secretary”) testified the directory contained only one county entry for each city listed. This will too often result in the plaintiff filing in the wrong venue, because no small number of Iowa cities are located in two counties. For example, West Des Moines, one of Iowa’s most populous cities, is located in both Polk and Dallas Counties. Moreover, the USPS directory alone cannot account for residents of rural areas who, although they are given a mailing address of a nearby town, may, like Bergstrom, live miles away from the city limits and in another county. This is not inconsequential in Iowa, which has ninety-nine counties. Chrysler’s procedures were not reasonably adapted to avoid suing debtors in the wrong county; the only result of the directory’s use was that suits were filed in the county where city hall happened to be located.

They also point out a bit of an analysis issue with the majority opinion:
In the district court, the fighting issue was not whether Chrysler’s procedures were “reasonably adapted” to avoid mistaken filings, but rather whether Chrysler could escape liability if it simply proved its error was unintentional. Chrysler quoted fromdicta in Monahan Loan Service, Inc. v. Janssen, which opined that a creditor would not be liable if it showed its mistake was “inadvertently drafted, unintentional, or resulted from a bona fide error.” 349 N.W.2d 752, 755 (Iowa 1984). The district court agreed, found Chrysler’s error was unintentional, and dismissed Bergstrom’s counterclaim. This is why the court of appeals spent the bulk of its opinion distinguishing our dicta in Monahan to rightly conclude that “proof of the maintenance of procedures reasonably adapted to avoid the error in addition to proof that the error was unintentional . . . ” was necessary. . . . When the record is viewed in its entirety, it appears the district court did not analyze the “reasonably adapted” procedures element.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Quizzy goodness

You gotta do something when your brain feels like it's going to explode. I'm getting way too many files in. Names, facts and such are starting to meld together. I've even answered the phone with the wrong name as I was trying to type, read and talk at the same time.

Your Brain's Pattern
Your mind is a multi dimensional wonderland, with many layers. You're the type that always has multiple streams of though going. And you can keep these thoughts going at any time. You're very likely to be engaged in deep thought - and deep conversation.


What Your Underwear Says About You
When you're bad, you're very bad. And when you're good, you're still trouble! You're a closet exhibitionist who gets a thrill from being secretly naughty.

You Passed the US Citizenship Test
Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!
The Des Moines Register has picked up the story about some of the loopholes in the new sex offender law:
Some single Iowa women have found a loophole in a law that prohibits convicted sex offenders from living with them and their children.

"What's happening now is that they are marrying these guys to get around the law. That's creating some concern," Marshall County Attorney Jennifer Miller said. "Whereas the children had been protected originally, now a lot of these sex offenders are becoming their stepdads."

Neither Miller nor other prosecutors know the extent of the problem, which they say surfaced shortly after the law went into effect July 1 as part of a package of tough sex offender laws that include longer prison sentences and electronic monitors for pedophiles.

The residency law targeted live-in boyfriends with records of sexual abuse against children. If a woman knowingly lived with a person on the sex offender registry, the law says, she and the offender would face child-endangerment charges.

The offense carries a two-year prison term and $5,000 fine. But the law has an exemption: If the offender is the child's parent, he can't be charged.

First off, what is up with that lead sentence? Not "some Iowa sex offenders have discovered a loophole" that allows them to avoid child endangerment charges, it's "some Iowa single women" that are the problem. Excuse me, but I thought the issue was the sex offender living with the kids? I'm not saying that women are not culpable, and I don't advocate exempting them from the statute's effect, but when we talk about the loophole, who should we be focusing on keeping away from the kids, mom or the convicted sex offender?

That aside, at least this will draw more widespread attention to one of the problems we've been warning you about. My quote from June:
However, it raises an interesting new question: you've exempted married sex offenders from the child endangerment/child abuse provisions. Why???? If Trena Gage had decided to get married to Bentley (either one of them) that would've made it all okay??? If two hard-core sex offenders get married, is it not still child endangerment?

This loophole desperately needs to be fixed. If I might add another two cent's worth of an opinion, could you also point out that the sex offender registry is just too broad?

The problem, as I've stated it before, lies in three related code sections:
Iowa law defines indecent exposure as:
709.9 Indecent exposure.
A person who exposes the person's genitals or pubes to another not the person's spouse, or who commits a sex act in the presence of or view of a third person, commits a serious misdemeanor, if:
1. The person does so to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either party; and
2. The person knows or reasonably should know that the act is offensive to the viewer.

Note this is broad enough to include someone "mooning" out a car window as a prank, people who go skinny dipping who and caught by some old fart with binoculars, or a couple of horny kids without a dorm room to go to, who have sex in some public park or car and accidentally get caught.

(In fact, that second prong might even include those who are having sex or masturbate in their own home, if the blinds aren't drawn. If they are in view of a third person walking by on the street, whether they realize they're being watched or not, and they "reasonably should have known" that someone seeing them would be offended by it, then they're arguably guilty.)
Persons required to register under the sex offender registry in Iowa include the following:
692A.2 Persons required to register.
1. A person who has been convicted of a criminal offense against a minor, an aggravated offense, sexual exploitation, an other relevant offense, or a sexually violent offense in this state or in another state, or in a federal, military, tribal, or foreign court, or a person required to register in another state under the state's sex offender registry , shall register as provided in this chapter. A person required to register under this chapter shall, upon a first conviction, register for a period of ten years . . .

On first blush, that doesn't seem to cover the mooners, skinny dippers or horny teenagers. I mean, it's not an aggravated offense, or an offense against a minor or anything. The language here implies we're only dealing with serious crimes. But wait . . . there's that pesky "other related offense." What's that about?
7. "Other relevant offense" means any of the following offenses:
a. Telephone dissemination of obscene materials in violation of section 728.15 .
b. Rental or sale of hard-core pornography in violation of section 728.4 .
c. Indecent exposure in violation of section 709.9

This means that upon conviction of an indecent exposure, the mooners, the skinny dippers, the horny kids, and so forth will find themselves on the sex offender registry for ten years.

The solution I advocated in June is to set up a two-tier law that distinguishes the abusers and dangerous sex offenders from a run-of-the-mill mooner, and then rip out the marital loophole altogether. It seems to make sense, and would preclude most of the problems inherent with the new laws.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Your Mood Ring is Orange
Stimulating ideas
Full of desires

From the Angry Little Iowa Law Girl

Theater-Related Quizzy Thing

Steven Soderbergh
Your film will be 60% romantic, 28% comedy, 54% complex plot, and a $ 35 million budget.
Filmography: Sex Lies and Videotape, Traffic, Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve, Erin Brockovich, and various other homemade independent films. He may just want to follow you around for a few months and construct a film out of that. At least you'll be surrounded by the best-looking people who will be cast as your friends. Then when he wins the Academy Award for your film, he won't have to make anymore "Ocean's" films.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 75% on action-romance
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You scored higher than 33% on humor
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You scored higher than 90% on complexity
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You scored higher than 39% on budget
Link: The Director Who Films Your Life Test written by bingomosquito on Ok Cupid

RIP William Rehnquist

SCOTUSBlog has several posts up on the passing of Chief Justice William Rehnquist:

Statements made in memorial by his colleagues on the Supreme Court.

Statements made by President Bush and Rehnquist's potential successor, John Roberts.

Details of planned memorial services.

They also analyze the effect Justice Rehnquist's death has on Justice O'Connor's replacement search:
Various folks in the blogosphere and elsewhere have been wondering whether a new nomination is necessary, and/or whether Justice O'Connor's resignation would become effective if and when Judge Roberts is confirmed to be Chief Justice.

A new nomination is required. The Constitution itself does not specify how many Justices will comprise the Supreme Court -- but it does expressly contemplate that there will be a "Chief Justice" who will preside (as Rehnquist did) over the trial of the impeachment of a President (art. I, sec. 3, cl. 6). Although the question is uncertain, I don't think that that constitutional provision, standing alone, would require that the position of "Chief Justice" be treated as a distinct "Office" for purposes of the Appointments Clause (art. II, sec. 2, cl. 2). Thus, perhaps Congress could have provided, for instance, that the role of Chief Justice would be rotated among the Justices (cf. Weiss v. United States, 510 U.S. 163 (1994)), or be held by the senior-most Justice (cf. 28 U.S.C. 45), or some such thing -- in which case, no separate nomination would be required.

But Congress didn't do so. Instead, it established that "[t]he Supreme Court of the United States shall consist of a Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices, any six of whom shall constitute a quorum" (28 U.S.C. 1); and in numerous other statutes, Congress gave particular responsibilities and authorities to the Chief Justice, and a higher salary, to boot (5 U.S.C. 5332 -- $203,000 and $194,300, respectively). [UPDATE: Remainder of this and the following paragraph edited slightly.] Ever since President Washington's eighteenth-century nomination of Associate Justice Cushing to be the second (confirmed) Chief Justice, the political branches have treated these statutes (and their predecessors) as establishing a distinct office of the Chief Justice, requiring separate nomination and confirmation. That's why, for instance, President Reagan was required to nominate Justice Rehnquist to be Chief Justice in 1986, rather than simply "assigning" him to that spot. (Earlier, Justices White and Stone also were separately nominated to be Chief Justice.)

. . .

What does the new nomination mean for the O'Connor retirement? Well, if she takes no further steps, then I think that her office of Associate Justice will not become vacant in the event Roberts is confirmed as Chief Justice, by virtue of her formal letter to the President of July 1st. In that letter, Justice O'Connor wrote: "This is to inform you of my decision to retire from my position as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, effective upon the nomination and confirmation of my successor."

Because a Chief Justice Roberts would fill an office distinct from that of Associate Justice, he would not be a "successor" to Justice O'Connor's office, and thus the condition of her retirement would not be satisfied.

If she takes no further action.

It's an interesting question, but I'd prefer to pause and honor Justice Rehnquist before we move on to the political ramifications of his death. Justice Scalia had this to say:
"Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist led a philosophically diverse group of Justices through 19 years in which public attention was focused upon the Supreme Court to an unprecedented degree. His keen intellect and sound judgment commanded the respect of his colleagues, and his personal qualities of considerateness and fairness won their affection. His death is a loss to the Court, to all the federal judiciary that he headed for so long, and to the Nation. It is a double loss for me; he was my friend long before he was my Chief. May he rest in peace."