Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Proper Parenting

"YPSILANTI, Mich. — A married couple — first the husband, then his wife — were arrested within hours, each on suspicion of drunken driving.

Ypsilanti police told The Ann Arbor News they stopped the man and gave him a preliminary breath test after watching him allegedly run a red light Saturday night.

Police said it registered above the 0.08 percent blood-alcohol limit. He had his 12-year-old son in the car with him.

Police told the boy to call his mother to pick him up.

After she arrived, with her 9-year-old daughter in the car, the woman was tested and found to be above the legal limit, police said.

Both children were turned over to a relative until the parents were determined to be sober."

From today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Provide your own punchline or expression of ire.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Matters of Law, Morality and Religion

The Pope has counseled Catholic pharmacists to refuse to sell drugs that are used for abortion, euthanasia and other “immoral purpose[s],” using “conscientious objection,” though I’m not sure what the latter phrase means in the context of the issue.

He went on to say that pharmacists have an obligation to educate customers as to the error of their ways.

I assume the people in the corporate offices of CVS, Eckerds and the other drug chains are less than happy.

But, does the Pope have a valid point? I’m sure I’d not be happy if I went to a drug store and asked for a legal drug and instead got a lecture on its immorality and was refused service. That said, should a professional be required to do something that violates his or her view of what is moral or what is a sin as pontificated (sorry, I’m sure there was a better word available) by his or her religion.

I have declined to represent people that I thought wanted something that I thought shouldn’t be had. Did I breach my professional obligation as a lawyer? We don’t talk too much about that in my union.

The AP article I read referred to a Georgia law I wasn’t aware of that allows a pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription that would offend the pharmacist’s morality or religion. The article went on to say that California has a law that requires a pharmacist to sell the drug unless his or her employer agrees not to sell it and the customer can get it in a “timely manner.”

My initial thought is that one should not enter a profession that would require the person to act against the morality or religion that is brought to the profession.

That said, if I owned a convenience store, I wouldn’t sell the magazines you see on the rack near the cash register that have the black plastic over three quarters of the cover so you can’t see the XXX picture that appears below the name of the magazine. My view on this has nothing to do with morality or religion. I just don’t want to participate in that commerce. It’s fine for those that do, it just isn’t for me. Obviously, I’m not going to come up on charges for not carrying the media. In the same store, I’d be happy to carry condoms. I have no problem with “adult entertainment” in its various forms. Back to law, I haven’t and won’t represent people accused of crimes, but I fully support lawyers who do.

I guess my point is that on all of these issues, I get to choose what I’m willing to do; but, the Pope is taking some flack for telling his followers to do the same thing. Is the flack justified?

Friday, October 26, 2007

You Can't Make This Stuff Up, Unless You're The Government

Go to Jim Donahue’s place, The Velvet Blog, and click on the link “WTF" in the post. You will be amazed by the Washington Post story he linked to. Our Government has no shame. Ah for the days of W and Brownie.

Free At Last

The Georgia Supreme Court, in 4 - 3 decision found that Genarlow Wilson’s sentence of 10 years imprisonment for engaging in oral sex with another minor was “cruel and unusual punishment.” The Court ordered the habeas trial court to order the prison to release him. Court's Opinion

The Court did some fairly fancy maneuvering around some appellate rules about waived defenses and some precedent that would have kept him in jail. The most interesting part of the case is the Court’s determination that the Legislature’s revision of the law, after Wilson's conviction which, if applied to Wilson, would have resulted in him being convicted of a misdemeanor, rather than a felony with its ten year minimum sentence, evidenced evolving standards that required that the sentence be considered to be “grossly disproportional” and thus cruel and unusual. The Court though didn’t mention that the Legislature had specifically refused to make the revision retroactive so as to apply to Wilson, though it was aware of the Wilson case, pretty much negating any inference available that it considered Wilson's sentence to be an injustice. So much for legislative intent. (The Dissent, which I didn't read till just now, makes the same point in a different way.)

I think the right thing happened the wrong way. Our Legislature had the chance to right the wrong and declined to do so. Our Governor, Sonny "Go Fish" Perdue could have properly pardoned Wilson, but he took the politically expedient course and kept quiet. The two branches of Government charged with righting the wrong ducked their responsibility, leaving it to the Courts. Then as often happens, a Court faced with an injustice, casts about for a way to fix it, in the process creating bad precedent. Good for Genarlow Wilson and bad for our system of government.

For readers who are not lawyers or politicians, regular programming will resume shortly.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

An Open Letter to the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives

First, this post is of little or no interest to anyone outside of the State of Georgia, surf on.

Those of you left, politicians are an odd lot. They make their living talking. Pontificating some would say. Our Georgia pols are talkers and pontificators with the best of ‘em and it doesn't matter much to them that what they are talking about is something they brought upon themselves and that they have no authority over.

A couple of years ago a man named Brian Nichols allegedly shot three people in the Fulton County Court House. He still hasn’t been tried. All of the Fulton County Judges recused themselves, as one of the people he is said to have killed was a Fulton County Judge, another was a court reporter, the third was a Sheriff’s Deputy. He is also accused, after escaping the Court House, to have killed a DEA agent he happened upon. A retired “Senior” Judge, from next door DeKalb County, agreed to serve as the trial judge.

Nichols almost assuredly did the crimes he is accused of. But we have that pesky death penalty here in Georgia.

The point of the judicial exercise in which we are engaged, from the viewpoint of the defense is to avoid him being strapped down and injected with a drug cocktail (to be named later as the result of a pending U.S. Supreme Court case); and from the point of the State, to make sure that the trial he gets is bullet-proof, so to speak, so it doesn’t have to be held a second time after the mandatory appeals. The Fulton County District Attorney has sole discretion on what charges are brought; and, he wants him to suffer the death penalty. So that kicks in laws on the proper defense to be afforded a person facing the death penalty, laws passed by the State of Georgia. Without too much detail, that defense has cost something towards $1.5 million so far. The trial judge stopped jury selection a week or so ago, because the State said it hasn’t got any more money; and, it isn’t going to appropriate any more money to defend Nichols. The Judge ordered the state to “show cause” why someone should not be held in contempt for not paying for the defense.

There’s lots more details; but, today The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Georgia Speaker of the House “Glenn Richardson is setting up a special committee to look into whether the judge in the Brian Nichols murder case has abused his office and can be impeached.”

That out of the way:

Dear Mr. Speaker,

I read with interest the AJC article about your intent to investigate Judge Fuller to determine whether he has abused his office and thus may be impeached.

As a first matter, I assume you have at least passing familiarity with the Georgia Constitution. If that is the case, you should be aware that judges in this state are not subject to impeachment. Further, you might be aware that the Legislature has no involvement in the process of the removal of a Judge. In the event that you’ve not familiarized yourself with the relevant passages of our Constitution, I offer the following for your edification:




Paragraph VI. Judicial Qualifications Commission; power; composition.

The power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of judges shall be vested in the Judicial Qualifications Commission. It shall consist of seven members, as follows: (1) Two judges of any court of record, selected by the Supreme Court; (2) Three members of the State Bar of Georgia who shall have been active status members of the state bar for at least ten years and who shall be elected by the board of governors of the state bar; and (3) Two citizens, neither of whom shall be a member of the state bar, who shall be appointed by the Governor."

To my knowledge, neither you nor any of the members of the Legislature that you have appointed to your investigatory committee are members of the aforementioned Judicial Qualifications Committee. That being the case, it seems to me that you are engaging in political grandstanding with no purpose than to draw attention to yourself. I’d also note that your branch of Georgia’s government brought this mess upon itself when, first, it decided that it wanted the death penalty; and, second, it passed the statute that required a person facing the death penalty to have two lawyers paid for by the state. The statute doesn’t say that those lawyers have to work for below market rates. It says they have to be paid for. The Judge gets to determine their pay. If he makes a wrong decision, the Appellate courts kick in, not the Legislature.

And as to that pay, Nichols has four lawyers. One is working for free. One is being paid by Fulton County. That leaves two that the State is paying for. One is paid either $95 or $125 an hour, the other, the lead attorney, is getting the princely sum of $175 an hour. I’m a schlub, run of the mill, civil lawyer, in no way capable of defending a person’s life, and I make more than that. He and I don’t really make that hourly rate. I assume you’ve heard of overhead.

So, you don’t like the fact that the Judge is bending over backwards, at what even I think is a very high cost, to give the guy a fair trial? You have several choices, none of which include investigating him. You can introduce a bill to abolish the death penalty. As you know, the Nichols defense has been angling since the beginning to plead to life without parole sentence. With no death penalty, Nichols would now be sitting in one of Georgia’s several maximum security prisons for the rest of his uncomfortable life, at considerably less cost than that which you are bitching about. You can also introduce a bill that further limits the defense to be afforded a person facing the death penalty. With the current make up of the U.S. Supreme Court, you have a fair shot at it holding that a minimal defense, one less costly than the one mandated by the Georgia State Government that you are part of, is good enough under the U.S. Constitution.

What you shouldn’t be doing is grandstanding. You planning to run for Governor?


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Windy Knob and other Technical Terms

Pos at Niagaran Pebbles has a new car that tells him how much mileage he is getting on a constant, if not real-time, basis. He also has a digital/analog watch that is schizophrenic. The digital readout is accurate; but, the analog mechanism stops counting if the windy knob is pulled out. Don’t complain to me, that’s his technical description.

For anyone with time on their hands, here’s a site that will tell you about each and every part of a mechanical watch: And it shows you drawings of the parts. For those of you more time pressed, the windy knob is composed of two parts, the crown and the stem.

As it turns out, until now I didn’t know what analog meant. You’ll note above that Pos described his watch as a combination of digital and analog. I referred to the traditional watch part as mechanical. It is but it’s also analog as it measures time continuously, rather than in “snapshots” as does a digital watch. So, if when Pos pulls out the windy knob, the analog mechanism becomes non-continuous and quits counting time, is it then digital? (Digital: adj. Describes any system based on discontinuous data or events.) If you want more and more serious, go here. Isn’t learning fun?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Post Potpourri

I just skimmed and for the second time today; and, some and for the first time. I watched some Fox News on TV, all California wildfires all the time.

Despite the subtitle for the Blog, nothing “on [this] given day interests, amuses, annoys or outrages me" sufficiently to inspire a post.

So, I’ve seen it on other blogs, I’ve seen it in newspapers by columnists that need a call-in column, though it’s never been done here: a bunch of stuff that is of minor interest to me and probably of no interest to you:

It has rained somewhere in metro Atlanta every day since last Thursday I think. The little pictures on my home page say that there will be rain tomorrow, Thursday and Friday. It hasn’t been, and won’t be, enough to make even a small dent in the drought; but, it’s nice to know that, one, I remember how to turn on the windshield wipers, and two, they still work.

Kid Rock was arrested here Sunday at about 6:00 a.m. I’m not a fan; but, I have a connection to the incident. I left home about quarter after eight on Sunday morning to play golf. As I traveled south on Buford Highway, at the intersection of Cheshire Bridge Road/Lenox Road (we have an interesting phenomenon here, roads that cross other roads often change names: Cheshire Bridge which runs nominally east from Piedmont Road, when it hits Buford, becomes Lenox which dead ends at the same Piedmont Road about eight or nine miles north of where Cheshire starts at Piedmont, having looped back west. OK, look at a map, I swear it’s true) there was a really nice looking silver gray tour bus in the right of three lanes with a lot of DeKalb County Police cars behind and beside of it. I thought it odd.

WEATHER UPDATE: Direct TV just went out which only happens when there is really bad weather and IT IS STARTING TO RAIN. Not the quick front coming through with not much water deposited kind of rain. Rather the sustained soaking rain. Damn, the signal just came back.

Back to the reportage. Yesterday morning, the AJC had a story on Kid’s arrest for involvement in a fight at the Waffle House on Buford Highway, just north of where I saw the tour bus. The details are pedestrian. The interesting part about the story is what wasn’t in it. Kid had a concert at a downtown venue which causes the question, what was he doing ten miles north of downtown about five or six hours after the concert ended? My supposition? Bars in the City of Atlanta close at 2:30 a.m. Bars in DeKalb County close at 4:00 a.m. There are five within a mile of the Waffle House where the incident happened. My guess is that Kid and the entourage were enjoying some of DeKalb’s famous night life.

This has turned into a full post. I guess what they say about just start writing is true. And, it's still raining.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Shameful Choice

I added The New York Times in print to my Sunday reading a couple of months ago.

The first couple of weeks, I devoured it, after reading The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But, it has become too much.

This morning, I got up about 6:30 a.m., started coffee and went to get the papers from outside the door. They weren't there! So, I fire up the computer and started reading the NYT online. A lot of what appears in it, and the AJC, in the Sunday paper is online beginning as early as Friday.

I heard a thump at about ten after seven. With more coffee, I started and finished the AJC and started the NYC by the time I had to leave at 8:30 a.m. I got back home a couple of hours ago and after puttering around read about half of the print portion of the NYT. I just quit. Too much. There are other things to do in life.

So, do I drop the AJC or the NYT newsprint? First, on a Sunday morning, I have to have newsprint in my hands. As poor as it is, I have to see what is happening around here, and that is best done by reading the poorly written and badly reported AJC. I can read most of the NYT online. Goodbye NYT

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Weekend Movie Review

RTW News Service, Atlanta.

You choose, who’s the better singer, Bobby Darin or Kevin Spacey?

I just finished watching “Beyond the Sea,” a movie directed by and starring Kevin Spacey from 2004. If you like the second clip, rent the movie. Some great acting by Spacey, Kate Bosworth, John Goodman, Bob Hoskins and others. A very broadly interpreted biography of Bobby Darin, complete with Spacey singing many of Darin’s songs, production numbers, flashbacks and dream sequences.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tap Tap, Career All Gone

I’m not a Republican. I don’t live in Utah (Jeni, in a comment below, has advised that the state I'm supposed to be referring to is Idaho). I’m not gay. I’m not fighting an internal battle to remain heterosexual.

I am feeling a bit for Larry Craig. the Republican Senator from Utah (Idaho). You all read about it. The cop whiling away his day in the restroom stall waiting for a mark. Just how had he messed up to get that assignment? Senator Craig tap tap tapping. Spreading his foot wider. Then…a plea to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. If you want the rest of the silly details at this late date, utilize Google News.

Let us assume the “worst.” He’s a repressed gay guy. He was trolling for some anonymous sex, in Minnesota, of all places. The most The Man can get him for is disorderly conduct.

Think about this without the gay context. You’re a guy or a girl. You put some moves on a guy or girl. Tell me you haven’t. Ept or inept. Your full intention was a sexual encounter. OK, it didn’t happen in a public restroom; but, you fully intended to try to get laid. Turns out the guy or the girl is a cop. Somehow your moves, tapping or otherwise, got declared to be deviant. Stupid you, you figure you’ll plea to a minor misdemeanor rather than go through the public and expensive process of being declared stupid, but not criminal.

Then you’re found out. You’re guilty of being stupid. No doubt there. You deal with the “outing” badly. I’m leaving. I’m leaving if I don’t get this overturned. I’m not leaving. Ever had a big problem in your life and experienced denial? Senator Craig did.

Was he, is he, a bad Senator? I don’t know. Without doing research, but knowing he’s Republican and from Utah (Idaho), I know that I probably don’t agree with many of his political views. But, I do know that this incident has no real bearing on the question other than to prove him to be human.

So what does he get from his Republican Senate colleagues? Pariah status. They are shunning him like he was the unpopular kid in the fifth grade.

“Craig's estrangement from his own party was on full display this week during a Senate roll call vote. Not one of the many Republicans gathered on the Senate floor spoke to or even went near their Idaho colleague. He stood all alone until Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) came to the rescue and greeted him warmly.

Nelson later expressed sympathy when asked about his solitary colleague.

‘As a human being, you're always feeling for other human beings who are hurting, and he's gone through a very hurtful period,’ Nelson said.”

Bear in mind that there is no real political consequence to them as the result of his stupidity. I’ve read that whichever Republican runs for his seat in Utah (Idaho, hell they'll probably do well in Utah) next year is a shoo-in. So why the animus?

I don’t know. Could Republican Senators be, as a group, homophobic? Since no Democrats are rushing to his defense, other than Sen. Nelson, tepidly, are they guilty of political opportunism? Let’s watch the Republicans self destruct!

If Democrats truly believed in a society that should allow people to engage in private behavior that deviates from the norm, but harms no one, wouldn’t a couple of them make a move to say that the shunning of Senator Craig is uncalled for? Throw the shunning back in the Republicans’ face, so to speak?

I forgot, they’re all consumed with the past sins of the Ottoman Empire.

Black and White

I wrote a post last night about the Senate Hearing on the nomination of Michael Mukasey as the next Attorney General.

Thomas and Jeni have commented, each to an extent discussing what torture is. To Thomas the issue is black and white. Jeni isn't willing to go so far.

"Torture is defined by the United Nations Convention Against Torture as 'any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession....'" From Wikipedia.

By that definition, waterboarding would seem to me to be torture, not too many ways around it.

That said, Judge Mukasey regardless of whether he read up on the issue and regardless of whether he wants to remain vague was being disingenuous in this exchange:

“'I mean, either it is or it isn’t,' [Senator Sheldon] Whitehouse continued.

Waterboarding, he said, 'is the practice of putting somebody in a reclining position, strapping them down, putting cloth over their faces and pouring water over the cloth to simulate the feeling of drowning. Is that constitutional?'

Mr. Mukasey again demurred, saying, 'If it amounts to torture, it is not constitutional.'

Mr. Whitehouse said he was 'very disappointed in that answer; I think it is purely semantic.'

'I’m sorry,' Mr. Mukasey replied.", Oct. 18, 2007.

I'm sorry too.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More Of The Same

"’It is not constitutional for the United States to engage in torture in any form, be it waterboarding or anything else,’ he said. When asked about it again by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Mukasey allowed that if waterboarding were actually defined as torture, then it could not be permitted by the president.

‘If it is torture as defined by the Constitution, or defined by constitutional standards, it can't be authorized,’ Mukasey said.”

Well said, except, he would not say whether is was or was not torture at the hearing today on his nomination to be the Attorney General of the United States. He is retired United States District Court Judge Michael Mukasey.

OK, let’s give him the benefit of the legal doubt, he can’t be up to speed on every legal issue that he will face in the new job. Having seen confirmation hearings in the past, he’s justifiably leary of committing to one course or another, foreclosing his options. So he waffles.

“Senators also sought to pin down Mukasey about his views on executive authority. They asked when, if ever, the president should be permitted to override laws that Congress has passed. Mukasey, again, equivocated.

‘We are not dealing here with black and white,’ he said. ‘Which is why it's very important that push not come to shove, because the result could be not just divisive but disaster.'"

Again, a waffle, excusable? It so happens that Congress passed a law that says that waterboarding is not allowed. It is against United States law. The soon to be Attorney General doesn’t seem to see that as a big thing, just a matter of grey, not black and white. If we all don’t push, then there isn’t any shoving. Divisiveness and disaster, the end of torture, can be avoided.

There ought to be at least one lawyer with no axe to grind on each panel with the power to say "wait a minute, you’re under oath and you said something stupid, let’s engage in a bit of cross examination."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

So What Am I?

I’ve thought about this, off and on, for a number of years; but, I don’t know exactly what my ancestry is, and there isn’t anyone left to ask.

My Father’s side of the family is German. They came over here in the late Nineteenth Century. They settled in the Detroit area.

On my Mother’s side, I was told the family was Scottish and Irish; they came over about the same time. They settled in the Ohio valley, mostly on the Ohio side of the river, just north of Huntington, WV, on the northern edge of Appalachia.

I’ve thus always said I’m half German and a quarter Scotch and Irish.

A few years ago I watch a PBS documentary on Appalachia. In it, I learned a bit of history that I’d not heard before. Back in the fifteenth century England sent a bunch of Scots over to northern Ireland to get them out of it’s “hair” and maybe to mess with the Irish of which it wasn’t too fond. They're known as "Scot Irish."

Many of them didn’t blend in, and over time emigrated to America, eventually to Appalachia. They are the mountain people, the hillbillies.

So, am I half German and half mountain man/hillbillie?

I can be dour. I like beer, though I’m assuming I got that from Dad’s side. Don’t like Scotch, don’t like whiskey or liquor of any kind. I don’t have any Irish temper. I’m more a spendthrift than a hoarder.

I’m going to settle on American mutt.

TV Giude - Blog Style

If you are looking for profundity, surf on.

I'm watching a TiVo'd episode of a new Food Channel show called either Two Dudes Catering or Dudes Catering. I'm not sure yet, the logo that I see when the show comes back on is too swirly and I'm hitting play just as I see the logo.

Anyway, usually I fast forward through the commercials. I didn't with the last one. It had a spot for a DYI program, this Friday night at, damn, I can't remember if it's 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. Anyway, it's a take off on all of the car show building things. Burt Reynolds stands around a bunch of motor heads as they take a beat up Seventies Pontiac TransAm and rebuild it into the Bandit from the old Smokey movies.

So, if you have no life and need something to do on Friday night, here's your chance at nostalgia. Burt is looking a bit long in the tooth in the ad.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Great Gadget

As I believe I said before here, and as I know I’ve said in the real world, I am genetically disinclined to neatness. Messy is more my nature. I’m slow to clean.

After making a meal, the range, the pots, pans, counter and any other appliances used, or in the range of fire are messy. I’m kind to myself with that description.

I have one of those, here’s a problem, what is it? It’s a ceramic thing you put on the counter that has a depression in it shaped like a serving spoon. You put the spoon you are using to stir stuff on it.

Of course, I only have one of those, and I’m often stirring more than one thing. My usual solution is to just use the same spoon; but, now and again, the tastes are a bit too different and I mess up the ceramic thing and the counter.

Today I found the solution to this problem, I just have to find another couple to compliment the one I have, that my friend the Atlanta cop gave me. He had worked a side job over the weekend at a local festival “A Taste of Atlanta.” He got a couple of freeby gadgets and gave me one.

If you are from the South, think of a big stainless steel “Gem Clip,” a bigger, more sturdy, paper clip, (I just went surfing for a picture and found out that the paperclip was invented, but never patented, by the Gem Manufacturing Company in Great Britain, in the Nineteenth Century. I’m going to have to go back and find a picture that shows the version I’m talking about. It’s the one you need if you have a lot of paper that has to be kept together, too many sheets for a normal paper clip.) that has silicone on the gripping part and the part you squeeze with your fingers to open the gripping part. I can see I have no future in writing patent applications. OK, stupid me, a more refined Google search brings us to the Trudeau Stainless Steel Pot Clip as sold on If you go to the link, mine has red silicone. I got me one of these today.

It is currently in use holding the spoon above the pot in which I am simmering spaghetti sauce as I type. Another confession, for the first ten minutes of typing this post, the spoon was sitting on the ceramic thing, on the counter, next to the range and next to the Trudeau Stainless Steel Pot Clip of which I write. I am a creature of habit.

Anyway, I like this gadget. I don’t like Amazon’s price, $7.45. I’m going to have to do a bit more shopping.

On a somewhat unrelated subject, I think I found the “stocking stuffer” Christmas gift for some of my friends that play golf. RICK, QUIT READING NOW.

I was playing golf yesterday and picked up a tee on the tee box where they often are left because golfers have bad eyes and are lazy. It had a guy’s name on it, Gary something. I wonder how much five packages of a hundred, each with a different name are going to cost me?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Expiration Update

I was going to create a mystery and give a prize for solving it.

Instead, I'm just going to solve the mystery set out in the last post.

When you cook and Soy is called for, don't use the bottle that is clearly labelled Worcestershire that is next to it in the door bin in the refrigerator.

Next suggestion, if I ever open a restaurant, do not patronize it.

Finally, Fermi, you need not bother PDM with this.

This Food is Expired, Don't Eat It

Yesterday I made some, what to call it? I’ll just describe it. I had some pork tenderloin left over, some mushrooms and a can of oriental vegetables in the pantry, along with rice.

Sautee the pork, add the mushrooms, turn to low, add the vegetables and simmer. Put it all over the rice.

Sprinkle with soy sauce.

Except the whole thing was, my best description, too vinegary. I looked at the can of vegetables, “best used by somewhere in 2009.” The mushrooms were fresh, had had no smell and couldn’t be the cause. The soy sauce, I just checked again, has a “best used by June 11, 2009” stamp on the bottle, which has been in the frig for a few, maybe more, months. Does the date lose currency once you open the top?

Something went wrong, but I can’t figure out what it was.

Sometime ago, we switched from expiration dates to use by dates and then best used by dates.

These dates bother me most with dairy products. They use the current nomenclature, though if you use the milk more than a day beyond the best used by date, it turns out to be spoiled, expired in the old system.

So some of you are real cooks, not you Fermi. PDM, what should I believe?

Friday, October 12, 2007

This Post is Guaranteed to Lead to Authority, Page Rank and the Riches of the Kingdom

The promise made in the title is void where prohibited by law, which is pretty much everywhere.

Fermi at Cosmic Cat has done a post that gives us her three favorite posts. She was tagged by Tiff, who’d been tagged by a number of people leading back to the originator of this thing. And he would be Bobby.

So, I’m to give you three of my posts that I like, link to Fermi and her predecessors back to Adam, I mean Bobby. I got confused and started begating. That part of this exercise leads to links that are said to be a good thing in the blogosphere. They are, in a way. If a lot of people put a link to your place, you move up in the ranks at places like Technorati, IceRocket and Google.

Jeni at Down River Drivel put me into one of these things going on a month ago and it drove up my rankings on the mentioned sites about two-fold. The funny thing? Visitors and page views and comments didn’t skyrocket.

So, that isn’t the driving force for me.

What is interesting about the idea is spreading the sites of people that can write stuff that I like to read. In my case, if Fermi says something is good, my bet is that it’s good. Since someone thought Fermi was good and put her into this chain, my bet again is that that person is good. I haven’t gone back yet; but, Bobby, you any good?

I like reading stuff. Here’s some stuff to read if you are interested, with my three chosen posts from the archive at the end:

Revellian dot com - SEO Keywords For Beginners, Content: The Kings Illegitimate Stepchild, Tales of Blogger-X Illusion

Mariuca - Wishing On A Falling Star - Love In Disarray, In Love With A Dream, The Good Client

Mariuca’s Perfume Gallery - Perfume Shopping Spree, Defining Beauty, In Full Splendour

Speedcat Hollydale Page - Rocket Boy in Hawaii - DC9, Speedcat’s Death Ride into Terror!, The Boy Inside All Men

Terri Terri Quite Contrary - Just How Immature Are We?, Finding a Voice, So Much More to See than the Game

Mahala- Uncle Huberts Custom Cows, Pray for the Child at Big Lots, The Legend of Saushie's Crotch

Tiff - How am I like Ron Weasley, A Social Experiment, Absolutely Boring Entry 101

Cosmic Cat - Just An Ordinary Thursday Night..., Not Gone With The Wind. Just Gone., The "Weekly Thoughtful Reminder" And Other Hazards Of Working

Field Lines - Even MIT Girls Get the Blues, Bye Bye, Friend, Bad Hair Day

Me: Tryptophan and Thanksgiving Walls and History The More Things Change

OK, I have to go look, as I think there are more rules to this thing. Yeah, there’s more but I’m not going to burden you with it.

I’m supposed to tag three more, or is it four or five? Since my purpose is to direct you to people that write good, check out my comments and the Recommended sidebar. As to tags, here’s to you Hedy, Becky, Ryan and Jim. Hit me with your best stuff.

(Management is not responsible for bad links. Maybe it is due to its lack of computer skill; but, it does not care and it will not respond to complaints.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Small Rent In The Safety Net

From the today:

KITAKYUSHU, Japan — In a thin notebook discovered along with a man’s partly mummified corpse this summer was a detailed account of his last days, recording his hunger pangs, his drop in weight and, above all, his dream of eating a rice ball, a snack sold for about $1 in convenience stores across the country.

“3 a.m. This human being hasn’t eaten in 10 days but is still alive,” he wrote. “I want to eat rice. I want to eat a rice ball.”

These were not the last words of a hiker lost in the wilderness, but those of a 52-year-old urban welfare recipient whose benefits had been cut off.

Top 100

There’s a popular mystery writer called, notice I didn’t say named, John Sanford. His actual name is John Camp. He’s written a few books under his real name; but, mostly he makes his living writing “…Prey” novels starring Lucas Davenport in Minnesota. They're pretty good reads.

Lucas is married to Weather something or other, a physician. A few books back she gave him an Ipod or an MP3 player and a certificate to download a hundred songs.

He didn’t run out, so to speak, and get them. Nope.

Interspersed in the novel between his search for the maniacal killer, he ruminated about what he should download and talked to his fictional friends about it. He decided to download the best hundred rock songs of all time.

When the book ended, there were a couple of pages of titles. Some I agree with, others, not so much.

Back then, I talked to Big Rick (do a search on the blog if you are new and don’t know who I’m talking about) about compiling our list, inviting our friends to play. He immediately dismissed the idea, saying that there was no way he could narrow down the best hundred ever in his opinion; and, he certainly wasn’t going to argue with me about my picks (no Beatles, per Rick).

Then today at the local establishment, Rick said he’d gotten a link from the Drudge Report to Rolling Stone’s list of the best rock songs and albums of all time. He was shocked, outraged and pretty much pissed off at their picks. He went on for sometime. A pause. “And can you believe there was nothing by …?”

My idea of the best hundred would probably make a good meme. I’m expanding the category beyond rock. Classical, Country, Hip Hop, Gospel. You name it. What moves you? You want to nominate an album and not just a song, be my guest. List your favorites, post them at your place if you have a blog with a link to here if you are so inclined, leave them here in a comment, do both. Invite others to do the same if you want to. OK, I just invented a meme (non-blog people, it's a kind of chain letter with no reward, just like the real chain letters; though I've heard that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are thinking of throwing a few million from the new foundation into the reality series, "Where are the Top 100 Now" that I'm producing on VH-1). Play if you want with whatever rules you want to follow.

List as few or as many as you want. Tell us why they’re the best, or not.

If there’s any kind of response, I’ll compile them down the road.

Here’s a few to start the process:

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry. Hank Williams. One of the prettiest, saddest, most haunting songs I’ve ever heard.

Layla, all versions. By God. Nothing more need be said.

Mr. Bojangles. Sammy Davis, Jr. Best seen and heard in an early sixties black and white TV performance I saw as a kid on a show I don’t remember.

Stairway to Heaven. Led Zeppelin.

Days of Future Past. Moody Blues. Am I giving away my age?

Stardust. Willie Nelson.

Enough. Maybe I’ll add some later. Dr. Sardonicus, I do expect you, of all people, to play.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And Yer Mama's A....

DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF GEORGIA, INC. is a link to the Georgia Secretary of State site that lists corporations that are registered in the state of Georgia.

So, you say, why the link?

I’ve noticed it before; but, I was just reading Nealsnuze which is the program notes for Neal Boortz who’s based out of Atlanta and is a second tier right leaning, but more libertarian than right, radio talk show host. As part of a comment he said “[a] constituent of Alaska's Democrat Senator Barbara Murkowski sent me a letter….”

Just why is it that Boortz, Hannity, Limbaugh and others insist on not using the “ic” ending of the name of the party they hate?

I can understand that they think the Democrats (proper usage) don’t espouse what they consider to be Democratic values (again proper usage); but, isn’t it a bit childish to insist on misidentifying them?

Why not refer to them as the Cheese Party? It makes as much sense and maybe makes their point more effectively.

That’s it. I didn’t like it in Junior High (now Middle School) much either.

What Was Wrong With Spaghetti, Noodles and Macaroni?

I’m not a food Neanderthal; but, I don’t know what a good proportion of the foods mentioned in a restaurant review are.

Take pasta. As inferable from the title, it came in three kinds when I was a kid; and only one was “Italian.” Noodles came with tuna fish (not tuna) and macaroni came with Kraft cheese. The Italian one was served with ground hamburger, an occasional mushroom (pieces, not button), Lawry's spaghetti sauce mix and tomato sauce all simmered for awhile. Now we have "pasta with..." on the menu, or a bewildering array of "pasta subtype with...." I’ve learned about linguini, fettuccini, rigatoni and all of their siblings; but, I wouldn’t want to bet any money that I can tell one thin one or fat one or flat one or hollow one from another.

I know, I know, different shapes work best with different sauces; but, how many damn sauces are there?

Salads. What’s a ramp? I have a suspicion that it tastes like arugula (or is it radicchio?), which tastes bitter to me. I still feel cheated (and internally embarrassed about it) if there’s too much dark reddish and dark greenish “lettuce” in a salad. I’ve gotten over the same feelings about carrot slivers.

So you don’t think I’m totally without sophistication, I use kosher salt, I have a pepper mill and a bunch of herbs and spices in the cupboard. No fresh though, they go to waste. But fleur de sel? It’s gray!

Then there are restaurants and their ever escalating need to be trendy, and make more money. Amuse bouche translates as “mouth pleaser” and one is served before the appetizer, which is served after the hors d’oeurves during the cocktail hour, if there is one. None of which should be confused with canapés or crudités, or maybe they should. An appetizer is served to stimulate your appetite and thus has the same purpose as the amuse bouche, hors d’oeurves, canapés and crudités, though it is bigger. But, an appetizer usually isn’t as big as “small plates” which are tapas that aren’t Spanish and are really skimpy entrée’s that make you spend more money than you would if they weren’t on the menu. Between the invention of the hors d’oerve and amuse bouche, we learned of “sides” and “accompaniments” which divorced the vegetable from the main course and resulted in the entrée.

Don’t get me started on parsley.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Scot Boras is Bonkers.

And you thought I read the NYTimes for the liberal stuff.

It has an article today about Mr. Boras (I really like the Times sensibility of the first time a person is mentioned in an article their full name is set out and after that they are Mr., Mrs., Ms. Whomever).

Anyway, Mr. Boras feels that Alex Rodriguez should exercise a right to opt out of the last three years of his ten year, $252 million contract that would pay him ninety-one million dollars for the next three years.

The article opines that Mr. Boras could ask $300 million dollars for Mr. Rodriguez’s services over the next ten years. Mr. Rodriguez is 32.

Mr. Boras recently made news here in Atlanta by saying that Andruw Jones, the Braves’ center fielder, and also his client, was worth $20 million dollars a year for the next seven years. The Braves declined to discuss the matter further with Mr. Boras. Mr. Jones is, I believe, also 32.

Now, I kind of understand asking a stupid amount of money for Mr. Jones (he’s making $13.5 million a year now) and settling for something less. But which stupid billionaire is going to pay $30 million a year for an aging superstar? He’s good, but is he that good?

I’m not a millionaire. I’m not going to be one. Maybe there’s a reason for that. I don’t have the mental make-up to ask for ridiculous things. I’m going to look into this bonkers thing. It seems to pay.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Does Giuliani Have the Right Idea?

The leading Republican candidates for President skipped an event sponsored the Values Voters Debate in September. Who are they? A coalition of forty different religious right groups. Faith2action, the Eagle Forum. The VPD had a straw poll in Ft. Lauderdale. Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister and former Arkansas Governor attended and won. He is in single digits in the polls.

Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family) and a few of his friends have recently announced that they may split from the GOP if Giuliani or Thompson get the Republican nomination.

A New York Times article today reported the above and went on to say that 26 percent of the population are “Evangelical Protestants.” But of that number only 12 percent of the population are hardcore religious right voters.

Giuliani, though to my mind pandering with the best of the Republicans is, according to the article, betting that he can win without espousing opposition to homosexuality and abortion, though he’s straddling as best he can from what I can see. Of the approximately 26 percent noted above, 30 percent said they could vote for someone that doesn’t agree with them on abortion and homosexuality. 59 percent said they couldn’t. I guess the other 11 percent aren’t sure. So what does that mean? Giuliani and Thompson, if the poll numbers hold true, will lose 8.4 percent of the vote for their “moderate views.” Keep in mind that is measured against the entire population. They will pick up about 15 percent of the population, maybe a bit more with the undecideds. All this again in the general election. So they start with something over 15 percent of the vote and then go for the great unwashed middle.

So, the bugaboo is getting the nomination. The article didn’t give percentages for the GOP when it comes to the hardcore. Assuming that the hardcore right sits it out, as Dobson threatens, one of the mainstream guys, probably Giuliani, is the nominee.

In contrast, the Democrats seem to be playing politics as usual, at least with the top tier. Clinton wants to pander by proposing to spend $20 billion a year on babies. Add another couple hundred billion in national health care. Obama hasn’t weighed in on babies yet, but he’s on board with buying votes with health care and other entitlement programs. Biden and Edwards in the second tier mouth similar programs.

So, Giuliani and Clinton? A wash on Iraq. They’ll take shots at each other on nuances of staying there for a long time. Clinton will take shots at Giuliani for having no national experience. Rudy will tar her with Bill’s peccadilloes and national health care and very quietly play up the gender difference.

The far left don’t seem to be enamored by Clinton. They know for the most part that the baby boondoggle isn’t going to happen. Health care? Only if there is a Democratic sweep of the Presidency, House and the Senate (over 60). Probably not, and not things that are going to mobilize them.

So what is Clinton left with? A massive mobilization of the teachers’ unions, the UAW and the Democratic equivalent of the religious right – the silent black majority. Single young women? I think that coalition, even if it holds together, won’t do it.

Giuliani may have the ticket, and the plan. If that’s the case, I hope he’s really pandering these days.

Friday, October 05, 2007

New Rule: A Dictionary In Every President's Pocket

“’This government does not torture people,’” Mr. Bush said. “’You know, we stick to U.S. law and our international obligations.’”

Later in the same New York Times article:

“One 2005 secret opinion gave the Justice Department’s most authoritative legal approval to the harshest agency techniques, including head slapping, exposure to cold and simulated drowning, even when used in combination.

The second opinion declared that under some circumstances, such techniques were not “cruel, inhuman or degrading,” a category of treatment that Congress banned in December 2005.”

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the--if he--if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not--that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement....Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true."

Well, The New York Times is a bit more articulate in the second quote than Bill Clinton was, in the third quote; but, I kind of long for the days of “what is is.”

Wouldn’t you be happier if the biggest national controversy was whether a blow job was sex and if you’d had either in the past, it might be ok to answer no to a question about either that you could lamely interpret to be asking about the present?

W doesn’t trouble himself with blow jobs, sex and tense. He just redefines words. What do torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading mean? What ever we say they mean. We don’t torture people because what we do isn’t torture because we redefined the word. We aren’t allowed to see the “opinions” referred to in the second quote. According to Dana Perino we can’t see them because they contain “confidential legal advice.”

So we are left with “we don’t torture.” No one that knows what we do is going to tell us what they do; but, be assured that it isn’t torture.

Here’s my problem with this stupidity; and, my more liberal/commie/pinko readers than even I am, may part ways with me here. Torture has been around for a long time. It may well have its place in war. But, given W’s track record, I don’t trust him, or the people that work for him, as far as I can throw him/them to make an objective decision on its use. Absent my absolute lack of confidence in W and his judgment, I'd rather an administration that flat said, we aren't talking about that.

Go back and do a search on previous posts about torture and Guantanamo on this blog. W, to use a legal phrase, skews to the over, rather than the, under inclusive view of extreme treatment of terrorism suspects. (If someone is really interested in what that means, try Google. If that doesn’t work, read a constitutional law or philosophy textbook. As a last resort, come back and insist that I do a law post. Trust me though, it's boring.) Were I to slide him the use of cruelty, inhumanity, degradation, or God forbid, torture, he'd fuck it up like he does most other things.

Though I don't agree, I think I rather he say, "People, we are in a war, wars are not nice things, the enemy does a lot of bad things and it's my job to stop them. How I'm going about it isn't something I'm going to talk about."

472 days to go, if I counted right.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Culture of Ijaza

Ijaza is the Iraqi word for vacation.

Iraqi soldiers work two weeks and take a week off. That's four months of vacation a year. Apparently, nothing much gets in the way of that week of vacation. Not a military operation by any means. has a story today about Ijaza. A U.S. officer tried to put together an operation that was to include 1,500 Iraqi troops. The area had 12,000 Iraqi troops, so no problem? Wrong. Putting aside that a portion of the 12k were "ghost" troops, on the payroll, but nonexistent, there were a bunch more that were on vacation. The officer had to negotiate hard to get the 1,500. Our military had to negotiate with the Iraqi military to get it to supply troops to fight the war that it is about to take over, if you believe our military and our current administration. OK, those jibs were subjects of previous posts.

Next problem, the troops are troops in name only. Guard duty? That doesn't get in the way of a nap on the part of an Iraqi soldier according to the story.

This post is posted as just another small example of why we need to quit this stupidity. Why in the world should we put our military in a situation where it takes up the slack for people who don't much care about what they are doing?

And for those of you that label me as a "liberal/commie/pinko," remember the story comes from NPR, the source of all things "LCP."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Distinctions Without a Difference

In law school you get taught about material facts. There is a famous case (at least famous to people that went to the University of Miami and took “Legal Reasoning” when I did) about a car accident. Damned, but I can’t remember the name of the case. I think it was written by Benjamin Cardozo. But, at its center is a “blue Buick” which teaches you about material facts.

Is either the fact that the vehicle is blue or a Buick material to the legal issue? Well that depends. The case is about an auto accident. Do the legal issues to be resolved include whether the brakes contributed to the accident? If so, the fact that they are Buick brakes and thus Buick might have some responsibility makes Buickness a material fact. Did the accident happen at an intersection that happened to have a building with a blue wall there, from which direction the Buick came from, which might be why the other driver didn’t see it and thus crashed into it? Again if so, the vehicle’s blueness might be a material fact. If no is the answer to both questions, then the only material fact is that the blue Buick is a vehicle that crashed with another vehicle. The hunt for materiality must go on.

So where is this going? Well, I’ll tell you.

Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly are up in arms about Media Matters calling Rush out for referring to “phony soldiers,” the plural is important to the rhubarb. Rush dissed soldiers who opposed the war, or maybe he dissed one soldier, a guy named Jesse McBeth (who happened to have washed out of basic training, presented himself as a veteran and told the media he didn’t like the war) labelling him or them as phony. Media Matters jumped on it saying Rush was dissing all of our soldiers who weren’t in line with Rush and the Administration. Rush, rushed back saying he was only dissing Jesse.

Both sides miss the point. Whether the disses are singular or plural is not material. What is material is that Rush thinks less of those that oppose the war than those that support the war. That being so, he labels him or them as phony, so as to reduce their, or his, credibility. He doesn’t bother to examine what is being said and whether it has merit whether said by a serving soldier, an honorably discharged soldier or a Jesse. Rather he attacks who says it and dismisses or supports what they say based on the position taken on the war without analysis, masking his factually unsupported attack by using the phony label.

Rush isn’t a lawyer to my knowledge. I suppose Media Matters has a few on staff or available. Both sides ought to think about materiality before they engage the next time. The debate might be more material to the issues that face us, rather than wasting our time distinguishing differences that mean nothing.

UPDATE: The case is McPherson v. Buick Motor Co.. It is indeed by Justice Cardozo, then on the New York Court of Appeals, early in the last century. I can't find the actual opinion to make sure the Buick was blue, but that is my recollection. Having done the search, I've remembered that the case is also famous for a more important matter than teaching baby lawyers about materiality. It expanded tort, or negligence, law. The case found Buick had a duty to inspect the parts it bought from others, and failing in that duty, despite not being "in privity of contract" to be liable to people like McPherson, who bought the car from a dealer, who were injured when a part fell apart (a wheel) and the facts showed that an inspection would have shown that it was defective.