Thursday, April 27, 2006

Well, I've Been to New Orleans. Once.

Displaced Southerner
You are 75% true Southern!
You're pretty Southern, but something is keeping you from being a true Southern Belle or Gentleman. Maybe you've moved, or maybe your parents were Yankees and brought you up without ever taking you fishing or hunting or to Memaw's for chicken and black-eyed peas. You know your Southern facts and culture, but that literature still escapes you. And when you order tea at a restaurant, you expect it to come "unsweet." Yikes. Next time you have the chance, visit a classic Southern downtown area and spend an afternoon just soaking it in... Montgomery, Birmingham, Jackson, Natchez, Memphis, Charleston, Atlanta, or even New Orleans!
My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 33% onSoutherliness
Link: The Southern-ness Test written by gwennykate.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Can You Break It?

Says the AP:
The judge who presided at the "Da Vinci Code" copyright infringement trial has put a code of his own into his ruling, and he said Wednesday he would "probably" confirm it to the person who breaks it.

Since Judge Peter Smith delivered his ruling April 7 in favor of Dan Brown, the author of "The Da Vinci Code," lawyers in London and New York began noticing odd italicizations in the 71-page document.

In the weeks afterward, would-be code-breakers got to work on deciphering Smith's code.

"I can't discuss the judgment," Smith said in a brief conversation with The Associated Press, "but I don't see why a judgment should not be a matter of fun."

Italics are placed in strange spots: The first is found in the first paragraph of the 360-paragraph document. The letter "s" in the word "claimants" is italicized.

In the next paragraph, "claimant" is spelled with an italicized "m," and so on.

The italicized letters in the first seven paragraphs spell out "Smithy code," playing on the judge's name.

If you want a shot at it, the complete ruling is in .PDF form here.

Saw it on How Appealing.

Fresh Law

Okay, the Iowa Court of Appeals has new caselaw up. However, in the process of transferring the format of the opinions to .pdf from .doc - probably a good idea, as it minimizes the ability to edit them before printing - the web gods have also decided to eliminate the handy "summary" feature. So, to find the odd interesting case you actually have to download all gagillion cases. Hmmm. Maybe not so much time today. I did read some of them:

At approximately 9:00 p.m. on October 5, 2000, Featherstone tripped and fell due to a hole in the parking lot paving of a Hy-Vee grocery store in Des Moines. The hole was approximately seven inches wide, twelve inches long and one and three-quarters inches deep. Featherstone suffered injuries to her knees and lower back, several contusions, and a broken tooth. She filed suit claiming Hy-Vee was negligent, causing her to incur damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional pain, loss of past and future wages, and loss of earning capacity. She also filed a loss of consortium claim on behalf of her daughter. . . .

The jury awarded Featherstone $10,000 past medical expenses, $5500 past lost wages, and $5000 past physical and mental pain and suffering. The jury also awarded Featherstone’s daughter loss of consortium damages, $5000 for past loss and $20,000 for future loss.

The plaintiff was unhappy with the verdict, feeling it was against the weight of the evidence. More specifically, she thought she should have been able to tag Hy-Vee for punitive damages because it knew that someone else had fallen in the lot nine months earlier and did nothing about the hole, and still hadn't fixed it after she fell. The Court had granted summary judgment to Hy-Vee on that issue, so it was never presented to the jury. She also felt it was unfair that in rebutting her claim that she was depressed as a result of the fall, Hy-Vee was able to get into evidence an abortion she'd had prior to it as evidence she was already depressed. She'd filed a motion in limine to keep the evidence out, but the trial court had overruled her on that point.

The Court of Appeals disagreed with her on the punitive damages issue. First off, it pointed out that under Iowa's punitive damages statutes, Hy-Vee's conduct subsequent to her loss wasn't relevant to how it acted toward her safety on the date in question:
Featherstone also asserted that Hy-Vee’s subsequent conduct in failing to repair the parking lot and/or alleged misrepresentations during discovery should be considered as a basis for allowing a punitive damages award. However, Featherstone cites no support in Iowa law for this application. Moreover, chapter 668A does not support such an assertion but rather ties the issue of punitive damages to “the conduct of the defendant from which the claim arose.” Iowa Code § 668A.1(1)(a) (1999).

As far as not repairing the hole from the prior fall, the court noted the difference between the culpability required to prove punitive damages, and that of ordinary negligence. Punitive (punishment) damages require a willful and wanton disregard for the rights or safety of another, such that the party has "intentionally done an act of an unreasonable character in disregard of a known or obvious risk that was so great as to make it highly probable that harm would follow, and which thus is usually accompanied by a conscious indifference to the consequences." Negligence, on the other hand, requires the plaintiff only to prove the defendant knew or should have known of the danger, had a duty to protect the plaintiff from the harm, failed to act to prevent harm, and that this breach of duty caused the injuries alleged. The indicated that one fall in the past nine months only arose to the negligence level of culpability, given the evidence that some 30,000 people per week went through that parking lot, 9,000 of them after dark. It contrasted it with a 1999 case involving Walgreens, in which thirty-four incident reports in evidence occurring within a three-year period before the incident in question supported submission of a punitive damage claim to the jury.

On the abortion issue, the Court agreed with Featherstone. First of all, apparently the expert witnesses who testified at trial did not link the abortion specifically with the depression she was diagnosed with after the loss. Her own experts specifically refuted such a connection. Secondly, in refuting the depression claim, the defense already had the ability to enter into evidence the facts that Featherstone had prior miscarriages, a gambling problem, financial difficulties, and a marital breakdown including her husband’s infidelity that resulted in her contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Given all that, the existance of an abortion had little probative value. However, as the Court pointed out, the issue of abortion is such a hot-button one, it could well have prejudiced the jury. Thus, the Court ordered a new trial on the damages issue only.

This one had me shaking my head. First off, it's a very controversial topic: terminating the parental rights of an abuse victim because having the child around domestic violence is harmful to the child. Many, many DV theorists would argue that's merely punishing the victim for being a victim. They point out that it also precludes DV victims from reporting abuse, for fear they'll get their kids taken away. I am not against removal per se, particularly when the children are placed in physical danger. Example: a past case of my experience involved a DV claim based on a guy getting stoned and then waving a loaded gun around threatening to kill his partner. The kids were quite literally in the line of fire on that one, and if the Court had lifted the no-contact order, I would have immediately filed a petition for removal. That's an extreme example, but I basically felt that if the abuse occurred when the kids were in direct physical proximity, it placed them in danger of being collateral damage and court intervention of some kind was likely required.

But this case goes beyond the normal debate. The facts which triggered the termination hearing:
Due to past incidents of domestic violence, Timothy was ordered to have no contact with Alicia and Avery. However, Timothy violated the no-contact order and assaulted Alicia in December 2003.

Avery was adjudicated to be a child in need of assistance (CINA) pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) (2003) (child is likely to suffer harm due to parent’s failure to supervise). Avery was removed from Alicia’s care in June 2004 based on reports that Timothy and Alicia had violated the no-contact order. Avery was placed with the maternal grandmother.

Alicia participated in services. She resided in an independent living program until she graduated from high school in May 2004. She began attending a community college and worked part-time. Alicia attended a young parent support group. Alicia attended an anger management class and individual counseling. Service providers noted Alicia had good parenting skills. In December 2004, Alicia started unsupervised visitation with Avery, and these visits went well.

Allegations arose that Alicia had violated the no-contact order in April 2005. In May 2005, the State filed a petition seeking termination of the parents’ rights. After a hearing, the district court found Alicia had not violated the no-contact
order, and criminal charges against her based on that contact were dismissed. In August 2005, the parties agreed the termination proceedings would be held in abeyance.

Avery was placed in Alicia’s care for a short period of time in September 2005. Avery was removed and placed in foster care because of a domestic dispute between Alicia and Timothy. Alicia stated that Timothy forced his way into her apartment and then assaulted her. She cooperated with his criminal prosecution. Timothy was sentenced to a term of imprisonment not to exceed two years. Alicia reported Timothy when he attempted to contact her from prison.

Due to the incident in September 2005, a hearing on the termination petition was held in January 2006.

The Court terminated the father's parental rights, but declined to terminate Alicia's because it felt she deserved six more months of services to see if she could keep herself together. The State appealed.

My take: Okay, ignore the controversy and take it for given for a moment that the removal of children from the mother because the father's abusive and she won't stay away from him is justified under all circumstances.

Even so, where is the "she won't stay away from him" here??? She was exonerated of the alleged April violation. In September, he breaks in and assaults her. What, exactly, constitutes her complicity in this??? She then goes on to assist with the prosecution and report further attempts he makes to contact her. In fact, unless the Court's got some information it's not sharing, there's no evidence she participated in a no-contact violation following the original removal from her care back in 2004, before she received any services whatsoever.

I'm sorry, but I don't see the State's logic here.

Quote of the Day

Male consciousness is only an endless slide show of onion rings and nipples.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Just 'Cause

Monty Pythonesque quote of the day: “Anyone found guilty of crimes against badgers can face a fine of thousands of pounds and a prison sentence.”

Oh, and more tips from the UK: How to make a plastic bag bra. Just in case you find yourself stranded without one.
You Are 41% Selfish

You are quite balanced. You are able to compromise when it's in the best interests of those involved.
But you're no pushover. If something is important to you, you'll get it!

Isn't that the kind of thing that got Al Capone into trouble?

I normally leave the tax blogging to Joe, but I can't resist linking to Peebles v. Commissioner, for the sheer entertainment value. Apparently, the Peebles are an Arkansas couple. Mrs. Peebles was having an affair, and Mr. Peebles found out about it. Together, they apparently decided that even if the Courts now take a pretty dim view of alienation of affection lawsuits, they would try to enforce the concept on their own by shaking down the paramour, Dr. John M. Hestir. Dr. Hestir proved a fairly willing target, handing the Peebles not only $25,000, but some free legal advice:
Dr. Hestir said he was sorry about the affair and stated that this was “free money”, but that petitioner should be careful how he spent it because it could be considered income.
The Peebles should've listened to the doctor, because he filled out a Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, reporting that he had paid $25,000 to them. The Peebles somehow forgot to report that on their own income taxes, leading to an audit and this fun little case about whether the money was a "gift" or "income."

h/t TaxProf Blog.

Related links: Monty Python's Flying Circus Episode #15.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Fresh Law

New Iowa Supreme Court opinions are up. One that caught my eye:

KRUSE V. IOWA (Note: these are now PDF files).
Kruse was originally charged with third-degree sexual abuse in violation of Iowa Code section 709.4, a class “C” felony, based on the contention that Kruse, who was seventeen, performed a sex act with a thirteen-year-old girl. The minutes of testimony included a statement from the minor attesting to the fact that Kruse had forcibly removed her underwear and had sexual intercourse with her. His effort to transfer the case to juvenile court was unsuccessful. Eventually, pursuant to a plea agreement, the offense charge was amended downward to the aggravated misdemeanor of assault with intent to inflict serious injury. Kruse entered a written plea of guilty to the amended charge, which was accepted by the district court. He was sentenced to two years, suspended, and probation. The sentencing order included a no-contact order between Kruse and the victim, and required him to participate in sexual abuse counseling, but it did not specifically require him to register as a sex offender.

Within 10 days of the plea, Kruse’s probation officer prepared a probation agreement that Kruse signed, as did his mother. In that document, Kruse agreed that he would participate in the department of correction’s sex offender treatment program and would “complete Sex Offender Registry by 9-30-03.” When Kruse had not registered as a sex offender by November 1, 2003, and had failed to keep two appointments for the sex offender treatment program, his probation officer filed a violation report with the court. At the hearing on the alleged probation violation, Kruse asserted for the first time that he could not be compelled to register as a sex offender because the offense for which he had been convicted was not a “criminal offense against a minor” as that term is used in Iowa Code section 692A.2(1). The Court decided otherwise, but decided to hold off on the revocation so long as he registered as a sex offender. He didn’t. From looking at the Focus on the Courts website under FECR012411, it appears that the revocation was continued to give him a chance to register, and when he failed to by mid-December, the revocation was entered based on his latest conduct of failing to register post-hearing. That distinction became important.

Kruse asserted several issues:
1) He reiterated that he hadn’t pled guilty to a criminal offense against a minor as used in the Sex Offender Registry definition.
2) He alleged that even if he had, the definition of “criminal offense against a minor” was too vague to be constitutional.
3) He alleged that even if he had pled guilty to a qualifying criminal offense against a minor, and the definition wasn’t too vague, he wasn’t given due process of law because hen a person has been convicted of a criminal offense against a minor and is not incarcerated, Iowa Code section 692A.5 contemplates that “prior to release or sentencing of the convicted person” the court will obtain fingerprints and a criminal history and inform the person concerning the sex-offender registration requirements. Because the State didn’t do that, it couldn’t use his failure to register as grounds for a revocation.
4) He alleged that even if all the above were okay constitutionally (you don’t seriously expect me to repeat it?), then the conviction still violates the Due Process Clause of the Constitution because the review sections established under the sex offender registry law in 692A.8 are not sufficient to satisfy the right to be heard before your liberties are taken away. (692A.8 says a person who is registered under this chapter may request that the department determine whether the offense obligates registration, and that the department shall, within ninety days of the filing of the request – NOT before the registration is required).

Iowa Code section 692A.2(1) (2003) provides “[a] person who has been convicted of a criminal offense against a minor . . . shall register as provided in this chapter.” Persons convicted and placed on probation are required to register with the sheriff of the county of their residence within five days pursuant to Iowa Code section 692A.3. A “Criminal offense against a minor” is a statutorily defined term. The applicable statute defines such an offense as follows:

5. "Criminal offense against a minor" means any of the following criminal offenses or conduct:
a. Kidnapping of a minor, except for the kidnapping of a minor in the third degree committed by a parent.
b. False imprisonment of a minor, except if committed by a parent.
c. Any indictable offense involving sexual conduct directed toward a minor.
d. Solicitation of a minor to engage in an illegal sex act.
e. Use of a minor in a sexual performance.
f. Solicitation of a minor to practice prostitution.
g. Any indictable offense against a minor involving sexual contact with the minor.

(Emphasis in the opinion).

The claim that the charge to which he ultimately pled guilty was not a criminal offense against a minor ignores the fact that his written plea recited that “the Minutes of Testimony accurately describe what happened in all significant aspects.” The minutes of testimony that accompanied the trial information set forth the testimony of the victim attesting to the fact that Kruse had forcibly removed her underwear and had sexual intercourse with her.

Within ten days of his sentencing, Kruse was advised by his probation officer of his duty to register as a sex offender and signed an agreement to do so . . . notwithstanding the absence of a specific instruction from the court concerning Kruse’s registration requirement, it was not improper for his probation officer to conclude from available credible information concerning the facts of the crime that Kruse was required by law to register as a sex offender.

At the hearing on the application to revoke probation, Kruse was allowed to challenge the conclusion of his probation officer that his offense constituted a criminal offense against a minor as defined in section 692A.1(5). The district court was correct in noting that the definitions include offenses in which sexual conduct was involved, but which do not require sexual conduct as an element for conviction, and that resort to the minutes of the victim’s testimony was proper in determining whether the assaultive conduct fell within the definition of a “criminal offense against a minor.”

A statute challenged on vagueness grounds must describe the prohibited conduct with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand that which is prohibited and which will assure that the statute will not foster arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement, and the statutory provisions that Kruse challenges on vagueness grounds, i.e., paragraphs (c) and (g) of subsection 5 of section 692A.1, clearly satisfy this test as applied to acts upon which his conviction was based.

As far as that last due process claim goes, the Court stated:
We need not determine whether the postdeprivation review available to sex-offender registrants under Iowa Code section 692A.8 is sufficient to satisfy due process concerns.3 This is because in the present case the district court, acting under the residual authority the court retains over probationers under Iowa Code section 907.8 (“Jurisdiction over these persons shall remain with the sentencing court.”), afforded Kruse a predeprivation hearing at which he was allowed to challenge the registration requirement sought to be impressed upon him both as to the law and the facts. No sanctions were imposed against Kruse for conduct on his part that antedated that hearing. Consequently, Kruse has not been denied due process of law.

There is also a case up on whether removing good time credits for prisoners who file frivolous lawsuits is constitutional, and whether they're entitled to counsel for that hearing. (Yes, and no). And there's another disciplanary action up, this time involving James McGrath. I'll just quote the opening, and leave you to read the rest if you like:
This case is one of troubling contrasts. The respondent, James W. McGrath, has practiced law for many years in this state and has a good reputation among the bench and bar. Former female clients have accused him of attempting to obtain and in fact accepting sexual favors in payment for his legal services. McGrath’s testimony cannot be reconciled with those of the complaining witnesses. With no small measure of disappointment in this respected member of the bar, we are convinced he is guilty of the misconduct described by his former clients. Therefore, we suspend his license to practice law in this state indefinitely with no possibility of reinstatement for three years.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

What Kind of Spy are You?

Your Spy Type is: Aristocratic Agent
You're prim, proper, and refined. You are extremely charming and can persuade people to do almost anything.Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept it: Foil world renown jewel-thieving duo Pierre and Paulette Purloinier's plot to steal the famous Dope Diamond from an exhibition in Rome.
Take this quiz!


Via the Volokh Conspiracy, I learned of this Ohio case. The facts are summed up nicely by Bill Poser at the Language Log:
A couple were injured when their car struck a cow. The owner of the cow had no insurance, so they filed a claim with their own insurance company for coverage under its uninsured motorist provision. The company refused to pay, so they sued. The trial court ruled against them, and they appealed.

The point of contention was whether a cow is a motor vehicle. The court cites the American Heritage Dictionary's definition: "a self-propelled, wheeled conveyance that does not run on rails" The court correctly observes that:
a cow is self-propelled, does not run on rails, and could be used as a conveyance; however, there is no indication in the record that this particular cow had wheels. Therefore, it was not a motor vehicle...

He goes on to point out that the court may have been a tad misguided, as last I looked the most important defining feature of a motor vehicle, that which separates it from a sled or a go-cart, is that it has a motor. (insert eye roll)

I had to glance at our policy, since we now write in Ohio. Fortunately, we incorporate the term "motorized" into our definition of a motor vehicle. Otherwise, look out the next time an uninsured cow is wandering around with a tire around its neck.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I've been mildly amused by the story about a New Orleans politician and her election website. Wonkette discovered that the photo featured on her website showed her standing on a reproduction French-Quarter street-front in Disneyland - rather a stupid thing, given she lives in freaking New Orleans. The giggles got a bit louder when the Disney folks decided to send threatening letters to her for use of their proprietary photos.

Now it's gotten to coffee-spitting time. In response to the threat, instead of going out and actually taking a picture of herself in her own hometown, she's had aides photoshop out the incriminating garbage can that was one of the main giveaways the photo was shot on a Disneyland set. Yeah, that'll fix 'em. Noooobody will guess it's a fake now. Too, too funny.


Whaddaya Think?

An internet essay on photography, perspective and gender relations.

I'll comment later, but thought I'd throw it out there for debate now.

(h/t Metaphor)

Name that Quote?

After running across this first one and snorting coffee out my nose, I've decided to collect unintentional double-entendres in literature. Here's the first two:

No wonder that in old times sperm was such a favorite cosmetic. Such a clearer! such a sweetener! such a softener; such a delicious mollifier! After having my hands in it for only a few minutes, my fingers felt like eels, and began, as it were, to serpentine and spiralize.


"Be firm, be firm, my pecker"


Any additions? (Note for the Shakespeare fans - I said unintentional. Though you can put in a Shakespeare quote or two just for fun, if they're one of the really good ones. The line that consistantly made me do the junior-high giggling thing in MacBeth: "[W]e were carousing till the second cock".

Semantics or Perspective?

So I'm reading yet another article essentially arguing the whole "He's Just Not That Into You" philosophy: If a man is sending mixed signals or you find yourself making excuses for him (he’s confused, afraid of commitment, at a bad space in his life, whatever) the idea is to cut through the crap and realize that if a (sane) man really likes you, there ain’t nothing that’s going to get in his way - thus freeing yourself up for a relationship with a man who is "into" you.

My problem with it is focus. Like most other female-oriented relationship theories, it seems completely centered on the guy: Is he "into" you or not? It's supposed to be empowering, but I'm not so sure. If a man makes excuses for not getting involved, isn't a a better phrase "He's Just Not Good Enough For You?"

Monday, April 17, 2006

Theater / Show Blogging

I'm woefully behind in theater blogging, so here's the latest scoop:


From the lovely Angie Toomsen, I've gotten the press release on the new Violet Island concert:


CEDAR RAPIDS With four new members recently voted on the island, the eclectic and intelligent Violet Island returns to award-winning CSPS on April 22nd, 2006 for the first time since two packed nights in the spring of 2004.

Violet Island creates lively and sophisticated pop/rock/jazz with influences including Peter Gabriel, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, John Mayer and many others. Their sound is surprisingly accomplished for so young a band, and depends heavily on proficient percussion, rock and jazz guitar, swirling keyboards, gorgeous vocal harmonies and intelligent, impressionistic lyrics. Of the band's first CD, One or Nothing, Gazette music critic John Kenyon writes, "The resulting mix isn't really rock, falling closer to soundtrack music that blends rock, jazz, New Age, and other genres. The blend of electronics with more organic instruments makes the songs sound modern and homespun, accurately reflecting the lyrical questions about relationships and comfort."

The April 22nd show will be the first time Violet Island has played to a corridor crowd since 2004. Original lead vocalist Angie Toomsen and original percussionist Delayne Stallman revamped the group last fall, bringing on board keyboardist Garrett Thielking, guitarist Tony Brown, bass player Danny Oline, and additional vocalist Sara Snowdon. The CSPS show will also feature Jay Ramsey on sax, Austin Taft on auxiliary percussion. Minneapolis pianist and songwriter Ben Cook-Feltz will open.

In support of Cedar Rapids premiere non-profit arts venue, Violet Island will give one free cd to any audience member who brings three friends to the show.

Violet Island
Saturday, April 22nd, 8 pm
CSPS 1103 Third St SE Cedar Rapids
$10 advance $12 day of show $8 students

For tickets call 319-364-1580,write to, or check out for list of locations.

For more information about Violet Island:

I'm definitely going to hit this one - the band is completely awesome and Angie has the most gorgeous voice. If you're in CR, be sure to check it out.

Then, in swinging over to the Comics In Action website, I see the guys are performing again next Thursday:

Thursday, April 27 (DooZey's) - Why haven't you been to DooZey's?!?! This place has got it all! Great atmosphere, great drinks, great food, and now a full compliment of entertainment now including Comics In Action! We gave the DooZey's audience a little taste of the Comics In Action magic and they loved it so much...So we scheduled a show there! You might even see some piano accompaniment in our show! Lower Level Lindale Mall where Happy Joes used to be. The show starts at 8:00pm but get there at 7:30pm to get a good seat and try an item off their fantastic menu! See you down at DooZey's!!!

I'm telling you, this is good stuff, and I'm definitely going to catch the show.

On the local front, we are lucky enough to have a Jeff Shields musical AND a Michael Stokes musical going up roughly the same time period. Talk about theater overload. Here's the scoop:

Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe
Adapted From Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion
and Gabriel Pascal's motion picture

Directed By Jeff Shields

April 28, 29, May 6 at 8pm
April 30, May 7 at 2:30pm

Tickets on sale now through the Englert Box Office.


Book by Joe Masteroff
Based on the play by John Van Druten and
Stories by Christopher Isherwood
Music by John Kander Lyrics by Fred Ebb

Directed by Michael Stokes

April 21, 22, 23 and 28, 29, 30, 2006
Fri/Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 2:30
at Oakdale Hall Auditorium

Even though the film was one of biggest successes of the 1970s, the stage is still the best place to see this sizzling tale of pre-war Germany and a small, decadent Cabaret. Arguably Kander and Ebb’s greatest legacy. Wilkommen! Bienvenu! Welcome!

Produced by Special Arrangement with Tams-Witmark, Inc.
(For tickets, see the City Circle Acting Company website)

I know people in both shows, and I'm very impressed with the talent we've got lined up here. I'm so definitely going to have to hit both of these.

Also, for those of you who aren't in the loop, Iowa City Community Theatre is hosting it's fiftieth anniversary party:

50th Anniversary Celebration on April 29, 2006

The Iowa City Community Theatre is celebrating its 50th Anniversary Season at the University Athletic Club, April 29, 2006. A cash bar will be open at 4 pm with a buffet dinner (prime rib and chicken, vegetarian also available, plus cherry’s jubilee) from 5 to 7 pm. The cost of $35 per person covers the dinner, dessert, and service. Formal announcements will be sent out to our membership and officers, past and present, as well as the cast and crew of the previous 50 years of productions. If you have memories and/or stories to share, please send them by e-mail attachment to or telephonically to (319) 338-0443. We also would like pictures related to the theatre and its participants over the years. If you have any to share, please contact me at or (319) 338-8823 or Barbara Buddin at or (319) 338-0443.

I'm on hiatus for the moment, though I'm so tempted to do the next thing that comes down the pike. However, I'm not totally out of the game. I just finished an unarmed combat class with Rage Theatrics. (Check out the video of Nate and Aaron's final fight on the webpage. Very cool.) Another class starts this Sunday, this time with toys . . . here's mine:

It was just delivered yesterday. Look out, I'm armed and dangerous.

Though the dangerous part is mainly a function of not knowing what the hell I'm doing.


Woo Hoo

Someone's finally estimated the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

Love it.

Friday, April 14, 2006

So, How Was Your Night?

Ours was interesting. Keep scrolling through.

My apartment was out of the fray, for the most part, but at one point my brother was on Riverside Drive at the same time as the tornado. Talk about a "Share the Road" moment. Thank God they're reporting only one person killed.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Some Miscellanea

Big hair is sexy.

Hope springs eternal.

The bigger the idiot, the more elaborate the lie. (I suppose I already knew that one.)

The urge to impose order crops up in the oddest places. I suppose next they'll have a homeowner's association?

Don't mess with a guy trying to hookup. (Yes, I'm extrapolating. But why else do you think he was upset?)

Printer jams are going to be messy.

Subtlety in phallic symbolism is no longer necessary - or appreciated.

But an elaborate plan can turn even boring graffitti into a great prank.

And if you wait long enough, anything can become a valuable scientific artifact.

For a little time and a small monetary investment, you can pay the rent for an entire year.
Of course, that's going to attract every spammer in the western hemisphere, but it's actually true.

Creepiness is expensive.

Sometimes, you can't decide if something's supposed to be creepy or phallic. That's when it's time to quit.

Thursday Quiz

You Are an Excellent Cook

You're a top cook, but you weren't born that way. It's taken a lot of practice, a lot of experimenting, and a lot of learning.
It's likely that you have what it takes to be a top chef, should you have the desire...

Friday, April 07, 2006


Joe got insta-launched. Awesome job.

And my two cents: Okay, I took tax law back in the day, and I even (God knows why) answered the tax question on the bar exam back in the final days of the old Iowa essay tests, and I've just handed my stuff over to one of those unlicensed professionals - KMaciS - to do my returns, 'cause he does it for a living and is much faster at it. And he knows the current rules, which are constantly changing, so I defer to his greater expertise. And between Chuck and Joe, who would you feel safer having do your taxes - the expert, or the guy who fell for supported the fuzzy math behind the formerly-proposed fake rainforest in Coralville, even in the wake of Hurricane Katrina?

Can you spell a-u-d-i-t?

I thought so.

'Nuff said.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

How did I miss THIS?

So I'm skimming Alas, A Blog for the latest feminista-type news, when I run across this:

Pedophilia Fears Contributed to Child’s Death

It's a rare day in Mudville that I agree with Wendy McElroy

The toddler wandered from her nursery school, Ready Teddy Go, through a door left open. A bricklayer named Clive Peachey drove past her in his truck. At the inquest, he stated, "I kept thinking I should go back. The reason I didn't was because I thought people might think I was trying to abduct her."

Instead, he assured himself that the parents must be "driving around" and would find her.

A few minutes thereafter, Abby fatally fell into an algae-covered pond.

There's no doubt that child molestation is a real problem, and increased awareness is a good thing. But as Abby's story horribly illustrates, societies in which adults don't feel free to approach or help strange children, are not child-safe.

That leads me to this Fox News Story the McElroy link. It expounds on whether Mr. Peachy is morally liable child's death, and whether his fears were proportionate:
First and foremost, the responsibility lies with the nursery staff who became her guardians. Abby was in no immediate danger when Peachey saw her and he contacted the police upon later hearing a 'missing child' report.

Arguably, if he had phoned the police immediately, Abby would have been dead long before they arrived. Moreover, by coming forth, Peachey has accepted the damage to his life that comes with the public disgrace of saying "I drove past her."

Important information in judging Peachey is missing. For example, if Peachey has a family, he may have been reluctant to place his reputation or livelihood at risk. He may have balanced possible harm to his own children against helping a stranger's child.

Peachey's fears have precedence on this side of the Atlantic.

Last summer, an Illinois man lost an appeal on his conviction as a sex offender for grabbing the arm of a 14-year-old girl. She had stepped directly in front of his car, causing him to swerve in order to avoid hitting her.

And that leads me to the Des Moines Register article about the Illinois man, of somewhat more local applicability:
The facts, as reported in the Chicago Sun-Times, show that an angry Barnaby called to the 14-year-old he'd nearly run down, yelling, "Come here, little girl."

He then got out of his car, took her by the arm and gave her a lecture about how stepping in front of a vehicle is a very bad idea.

The girl ran away, complained to police and Barnaby was charged with - again no joke - attempted kidnapping and child abduction. This is even though he didn't attempt to take the girl anywhere. Barnaby beat those charges.

He was, however, convicted of unlawful restraint of a minor. And in Illinois, that is considered a sex offense.

That means even though he didn't do anything to the kid other than take her by the arm and give her a lecture that might end up saving her life, he must register as a sex offender. He is prohibited from living near a park or school and must keep local police advised as to his place of residence.

He might even get his name and picture in the local newspaper, to advise neighbors they're living near a sex offender.

How is this possible, you ask?

Well, a spokesman in the prosecutor's office said, the guy should be considered a sex offender "because of the proclivity of offenders who restrain children to also commit sex acts or other crimes against them."

Now we'll let the Appellate Court of Illinois, which upheld this insanity last week, explain itself.

While it may well be "unfair for (Barnaby) to suffer the stigmatization of being labeled a sex offender when his crime was not sexually motivated," grabbing a kid is "often a precursor" to a child being molested, the court said.

"It is (Barnaby's) actions which have caused him to be stigmatized, not the court," the ruling said.

Trial court judge Patrick Morse even conceded Barnaby's only apparent intention was to chastise the girl.

But, the judge said, "I can't read his mind."

Barnaby's lawyer, Frederick Cohn, of Chicago, provided a succinct assessment of the situation: "This is the most stupid ruling the appellate court has rendered in years."

Insanity. Pure insanity. I am annoyed enough by Iowa's classification of any and all indecent exposure as a sex offense, but this? Wow. And now with the 2000 foot rule, he's been banished to the SO ghetto. Lovely.

My old rant on the Sex Offender Registry is at the bottom of the post on the Side Note.

Governor Vilsak has signed HF619 into law, which makes substantial changes in both the sex abuse laws and the sex offender registry. As the Des Moines Register Article points out:
The expense of the new law, signed Tuesday by Gov. Tom Vilsack, is projected to more than double over the next five years, topping $12.4 million in 2010.

But I see bigger issues here. 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 get walked up on by the law.

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 commencing as follows:
a. From the date of placement on probation.
b. From the date of release on parole or work release.
c. From the date of release as a juvenile from foster care or residential treatment.
d. From the date of any other release from custody.

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.

As I indicated earlier, I think it would be appropriate to alter the indecent exposure laws to create two separate offenses.

For one thing, it would save a substantial amount of money on the DNA testing mandated by HF619 by splitting out the sexual offenders from the skinny dippers. As the Register points out:
. . . the combined cost of a DNA collection kit, analysis of a DNA sample and development of a DNA profile is about $45 a sample. Testing all felons will cost about $1.1 million in the first year of the program, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

It should also help alleviate the costs of publicizing the addresses of offenders by limiting the list to the ones we truly want to track. HF 619 allows for publication to:
Sec. 27. Section 692A.13, subsection 2, paragraph b, Code 2005, is amended to read as follows:
b. The general public, including public and private agencies, organizations, public places, public and private schools, child care facilities, religious and youth organizations, neighbors, neighborhood associations, community meetings, and employers. Registry information may be distributed to the public through printed materials, visual or audio press releases, radio communications, or through a criminal or juvenile justice agency's web page.

Do we really want to hear a radio announcement on every skinny dipper in town?

But there's another reason I'm concerned about this issue, which lies within the measures of HF 619 that are designed to address the Jetseta Gage situation. The legislature attempted to make some changes that would allow the Department of Human Services to pull kids out of homes where their parent chooses to live with a known sex offender, and allow the county attorney to charge a parent who brings a sex offender into their home with child endangerment. Here are the provisions:
Sec. 20. Section 232.68, subsection 2, Code 2005, is amended by adding the following new paragraph:
NEW PARAGRAPH. i. Cohabitation with a person on the sex offender registry under chapter 692A in violation of section 726.6.

(NOTE: Section 232.68 is the definition of child abuse.)

Sec. 31. Section 726.6, subsection 1, Code 2005, is amended by adding the following new paragraph:
NEW PARAGRAPH. h. Cohabits with a person after knowing the person is required to register or is on the sex offender registry as a sex offender under chapter 692A. However, this paragraph does not apply to a person who is a parent, guardian, or a person having custody or control over a child or a minor who is required to register as a sex offender, or to a person who is married to and living with a person required to register as a sex offender.

(Section 726.6 is the definition of the crime of child endangerment.)

The Child in Need of Assistance laws provide grounds to transfer custody to the Court for placement when abuse is present:
6. "Child in need of assistance" means an unmarried child:
a. Whose parent, guardian or other custodian has abandoned or deserted the child.
b. Whose parent, guardian, other custodian, or other member of the household in which the child resides has physically abused or neglected the child, or is imminently likely to abuse or neglect the child. . . .

UPDATE: After getting a chance to do a more thorough read-through of this, I have revised my opinion on these issues. It seems the child abuse section references the child endangerment section in it's definition, so the child endangerment definition controls both, unlike what I thought earlier. In other words, the state exempts from the child abuse definition people who are "a parent, guardian, or a person having custody or control over a child or a minor who is required to register as a sex offender," or are "married to and living with a person required to register as a sex offender."

That alleviates my earlier questions about a husband and wife getting caught having sex in the park, or having custody of a 15-year-old "mooner," so it's not so relevant on the issue of whether to create a two-tiered indecent exposure law.

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?

HF 619 also provides for a study committe:
legislative council is requested to authorize a study for the 2005 legislative interim on sexual abuse=related criminal offenses and the sex offender registry. The study recommendations and findings shall include but are not limited to identifying possible changes to sexual abuse=related offenses and the sex offender registry. The study report, including findings and recommendations, shall be submitted to the general assembly for consideration during the 2006 legislative session. The study shall be conducted by a study committee consisting of up to nine members of the general assembly. A chairperson or co=chairpersons shall be designated by the legislative council.

I'd propose the committee investigate altering the indecent exposure laws to something roughly as follows - but please keep in mind I whipped this out in about ten minutes, and the language would need substantial refining.
Indecent Exposure
A person who intentionally exposes the person's genitals or pubes to another not the person's spouse or who knowingly commits a sex act in the presence or view of a third party, with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either party, commits indecent exposure.
(i) A person eighteen years of age or older is upon conviction guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor if the person commits indecent exposure with a child. The provisions of this section shall also apply to a person sixteen or seventeen years of age who commits any of the enumerated acts with a child who is at least five years the person's junior, in which case the juvenile court shall have jurisdiction under chapter 232.
(ii) Any other indecent exposure is a serious misdemeanor, unless otherwise provided.

Public 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 simple misdemeanor if the person knows or reasonably should know that the act is offensive to the viewer.

I'd then propose changing the sex offender registry laws so that the first one would require registry, the second would not. Note that I also enhanced the penalty to an aggravated if it's with a child, diminishing the penalty to a simple if there's no intent, just 'cause I think it's fair.

Finally, in response to the new issue I'd pointed out regarding the holes in the definitions of sex abuse and child endangerment, I'd alter HF619's provisions to take out the exception for being married to a sex offender or being the parent of one. If we're limiting the sex offender registry to only those who really did molest kids, or at the very least intentionally flashed people for sexual purposes, then I'd say that the relationship between the sex offender and the parent is irrelevant to the potential harm to the other children in the home.

Thursday Quiz

'Cause the first one wasn't fair.

Thursday Pseudo-Quiz

Self-Test for Literature Abuse: How many of these apply to you?
  1. I have read fiction when I was depressed or to cheer myself up.
  2. I have gone on reading binges of an entire book or more in a day.
  3. I read rapidly, often "gulping" chapters.
  4. I sometimes read early in the morning or before work.
  5. I have hidden books in different places to sneak a chapter without being seen.
  6. Sometimes I avoid friends or family obligations in order to read novels.
  7. Sometimes I re-write film or television dialog as the characters speak.
  8. I often read alone.
  9. I have pretended to watch television while secretly reading.
  10. I keep books or magazines in the bathroom for a "quick nip."
  11. I have denied or "laughed off" criticism of my reading habit.
  12. Heavy reading has caused conflicts with my family or spouse.
  13. I am unable to enjoy myself with others unless there is a book nearby.
  14. I seldom leave my house without a book or magazine.
  15. When travelling, I pack a large bag full of books.
  16. At a party, I will often slip off unnoticed to read.
  17. Reading has made me seek haunts and companions which I would otherwise avoid.
  18. I have neglected personal hygiene or household chores until I finished a novel.
  19. I become nervous, disoriented, or fearful when I must spend more than 15 minutes without reading matter.
  20. I have spent money meant for necessities on books instead.
  21. I have sold books to support my reading "habit."
  22. I have daydreamed about becoming a rich & famous writer, or "word-pusher."
  23. I have attempted to check out more library books than is permitted.
  24. Most of my friends are heavy fiction readers.
  25. I have sometimes passed out or woken groggy or "hung-over" after a night of heavy reading.
  26. I have suffered 'blackouts' or memory loss from a bout of reading.
  27. I have wept, become angry or irrational because of something I read.
  28. I have sometimes wished I did not read so much.
  29. Sometimes I think my fiction reading is out of control.

If you answered 'yes' to five or more of these questions, you may be a literature abuser. Affirmative responses to ten or more indicates a serious reading problem --seek help now! Fifteen or more "yes" responses indicates a severe or chronic "readaholic" personality. Intervention is seldom effective at this stage. . . .

The intervention participants made me post this. 21 isn't so bad.

(I have seriously gotten better, I'm down to having only enough books to fill two large bookcases, the top of an armoire, and an odd shelf. Of course, I did put my name on all the books in the box I gave Ellen (K) and the box I gave my sister. But the two boxes I took to Crowded Closet back in March were actually donations.

Of course, I should admit I've been carrying the last two boxes' worth in my trunk for the past week or so. But I will let them go. Sooner or later.

Oh, you were wondering about the two novels I bought last week? Those are nothing. I can squeeze them in anywhere. Honest.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Things I Learned on the Internet Lately

How to grow a Grass Armchair. I wonder if that would get me licensed with the newly-forming Iowa Gestapo of Interior Design?

How not to kill a cockroach. Or a spider. (Full disclosure: in undergrad, I once tried to squish a spider in the vestibule of my apartment with my foot. It was a big one, sitting in the middle of a pane of glass near the door. It was cold outside, and the window shattered when my foot touched it, nearly tripping me. My ex was with me, and when he stopped laughing, he said: "I'm not sure if you squished him, but I think I heard him screaming as he was impaled by shards of broken glass." I have also been known to try to drown them with whatever wicked household chemicals I have at hand: Windex, cooking spray, nail polish remover. Have I mentioned I hate spiders?)

There's always a way to game the system. Some are more extreme than others.

Singing in a taxicab can be dangerous.

I have soooo got to go take out a patent on something. Like eating, or wearing clothes. I could make a fortune.

Somebody should warn people about the grotesque side effects of being locked inside a Hobby Lobby for a month.

The Song That Does Not End and other earworms: finally, there's an explanation. Personally, I still think it was a subtle form of torture, but whatever.

How to Build a Toilet-Paper cannon. 'Nuff said.

Swiss people have too much time on their hands.

There's a Bob Jones University cosmetology program. I guess they learned from that whole Tammy Faye debacle. Then again, maybe not. You'd think she'd get a scholarship? (h/t Salieri).

In case it hasn't been said enough, don't click any suspicious links. I used to occasionally respond to phishers on one of my spamcatcher email addresses (the ones you use to sign up for newspaper sites and such) by putting in an obscene user name and password, but even that's not smart anymore.

You can now sign up for the NSA "No-Spy List."

There's free legal advice on the 'net, too: "Yes, I know you have looked up everything in the jail's exhaustive legal library. However, the fact that they spelled your name McIntyre on the indictment instead of MacIntyre does not mean they cannot convict you. . . . No, Virginia Code § 8.8A-304 has nothing to do with your case. I know you think it does. I know you've tried to explain to me at least 6 times why it's relevant. It's not. I know I've explained this to you at least 6 times. The Uniform Commercial Code has nothing to do with your charge of assaulting a police officer. I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one." (NOTE: You might think that's an exaggeration, but I heard similar things from pro se defendants in the courtroom more than once. The hard part: keeping a straight face during the more, er, impassioned summations. And you guys wonder where I learned how to act?)

Speaking of jailhouse lawyers: When you care enough to send the very best . . . Prison Expressions: "Cards for those who are incarcerated & for their families to have to send to them."

Tax Blogging

I know Joe usually does this, but given the season, I thought I'd help out with my own insightful posting on the subject:

Speaking of Joe, did you read his post on "Great Moments in Regulation"? Hi-larious.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Monday Quiz - Deep Thoughts

Your Personality Is

Idealist (NF)

You are a passionate, caring, and unique person.
You are good at expressing yourself and sharing your ideals.

You are the most compassionate of all types and connect with others easily.
Your heart tends to rule you. You can't make decisions without considering feelings.

You seek out other empathetic people to befriend.
Truth and authenticity matters in your friendships.

In love, you give everything you have to relationships. You fall in love easily.

At work, you crave personal expression and meaning in your career.

With others, you communicate well. You can spend all night talking with someone.

As far as your looks go, you've likely taken the time to develop your own personal style.

On weekends, you like to be with others. Charity work is also a favorite pastime of yours.