The Weblog

March 2005 Archives

Volunteer Tailgate Party

. . . over at Domestic Psychology.

Having The Answers

Brock highlights this Professor Reynolds nugget:

One of the defining characteristics of conservatism, I thought, was a belief that one didn't know all the answers.
That may be true of some economic conservatives. But sadly it's not the case for the moral rightist conservatives, who believe they do have the answers for what ails America. And they're not going to let pesky laws, courts, or constitutions get in their way.

Reynolds speculates this Schiavo matter may signal a rift in the Republican party. I'm less optimistic. Certainly the GOP powers that be will soon hoist a less divisive banner (the flag, pledge of allegiance, the Beatitudes, apple pie) under which the troops will regroup. As the Daily Show recently pointed out, there's a principle for every occasion. And I'm sure someone will be pulling another out of the hat shortly.

Bumper Sticker Police

Apparently the free speech zones at President Bush's appearances don't include vehicle bumpers.

Civility

What he said.

Dying Because Of Us

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Interesting: "Terri Schindler Schiavo is Dying for Our Sins"

It's one thing to see the "murder" placards; it's another to see this "logic" fully articulated. I thought heart failure was the root of Terri's condition, but apparently it's the "tyrannical judges."

Speaking of which, there's an ongoing effort to impeach Sixth Judicial Circuit Court judge George W. Greer. What for? Apparently for following the law, when the law dictates a result certain conservatives don't want.

Rule of law. Rule of law.

Culture Of Life Priorities

Because some lives are more important than others:

Though Congress rushed to intervene in the case of a brain-damaged Florida woman, those lobbying on life-and-death medical issues that affect thousands or even millions of people often find themselves struggling to get lawmakers' attention.

It often comes down to the willingness of the government and lawmakers to spend money, say those who must make the pitch to Congress and federal agencies.

The National Aneurysm Alliance has been pressing Congress for months to approve federal funding to screen Medicare patients for deadly abdominal aortic aneurysms, but so far has come up empty on money for the roughly $80 to $100 tests. Contrasting that fight with congressional leaders' weekend rush earlier this month to try to get Terri Schiavo's feeding tube restored, the alliance's leader can't hide his frustration.

"Our best estimate is that about 15,000 Americans die each year from ruptured aneurysms, and I grew up in a town in central Connecticut where the entire population was about 30,000, so that's about half my town keeling over," said Dr. Robert Zwolak, chairman of the alliance and a surgery professor at Dartmouth Medical School.

"Those lives would all be saved if we could find them by screening," Zwolak added. "Yes, the Schiavo case is tragic, but the reality is on average about 40 people a day are going to be dying of ruptured aneurysms."

I offer the following plan to Dr. Zwolak or anyone else trying to get Congress' attention:

(1) Find a poster child for your campaign. Preferably a white female child, but anyone with a sympathetic family will do.

(2) Develop a talking points narrative on how the system (nameless bureaucrats, judges, lawyers, and other such scum) have screwed the victim of step 1.

(3) Solicit the help of religious rightist spokespeople. Frame the issue in terms of life versus death. Anyone who opposes your position supports murder.

(4) Have the conflict picked up by the local paper, followed by local talk radio, blogs, AP, national talk radio, Fox News, et al.

(5) Establish a www.saveX.com website. Have supporters contact their representatives.

(6) Orchestrate demonstrations so the national news media has an ongoing event with video pictures to "cover." Once the story gains national currency, you don't need a lot of protesters to warrant news coverage. The networks will carry them even when the number of journalists exceeds the number of demonstrators. Just make sure you have plenty of provocative placards and someone to stir things up every few hours.

Following the above plan does not guarantee that Congress will cut short a recess, pass emergency legislation, or even listen to you. But it's much more likely to be effective than in presenting reports on lives saved and boring stuff like that.

Fanaticism

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This would qualify:

More than 600 companies and individuals are licensed to make items bearing UT's marks.

That merchandise includes everything from caps to coffins and dishes to dog collars. There's furniture, computer games, artwork, trailer hitch covers, occasional food items like Mayfield Dairy Farms' Rocky Top ice cream and an unbelievable array of apparel.

Coffins? That's hardcore.

Up And Away

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The government is in the process of issuing regulations for space tourism:

The FAA's Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST) has already issued draft guidelines for those ready-and-wanting space tourists among us.

Under a new regulatory regime, you as a paying passenger will be able to zoom into space sitting inside a commercial space vehicle once you've been informed of and assume the significant risks of the venture. Additional rules yet to come, FAA officials explain, will help promote the emerging commercial human space flight industry, putting it on a solid regulatory footing.

Expect different rules for short up-and-down suborbital voyages, versus extended orbital tours. No word yet if nail clippers will be allowed.

I would allow a large number of successful flights first before venturing outside the atmosphere, so they can work all of the kinks out of the system.

Friday Cat Blogging

Trip to the Vet Edition

At the vet

Trial And Error

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Tip for first date: if you arrange to meet someone at a restaurant, it's a good idea to show up at the right restaurant.

Last week I call up date victim and we agree to have dinner. I ask if there's a particular place she wants to go. She says, "Yes, there's a Mexican place I like on Lost Street. At the moment I don't remember what it's called, but it's not X."

So at the appointed time I roll into Lost Street and notice that there are indeed two Mexican restaurants, X and Y. But for some reason my memory recalled date victim saying "it's not Y." So I promptly park at X.

I walk in, look around, but find no date. I wait for a few minutes at the door. Still no date. I go back inside and look around again. Still no date.

Finally, 20+ minutes after the appointed time, I get the brilliant idea, "you know, maybe I should go check that other restaurant." So I head down the street, pop in the door, and alas--there's date victim, where she's apparently been waiting for the last 30 minutes.

Fortunately, date victim seemed pretty gracious, given the circumstances and the date proceeded without too much damage. But this is definitely something I don't recommend you try at home.

At The Summitt

Congratulations to Tennessee Lady Vols head coach Pat Summitt for becoming the NCAA's all-time winningest coach. I was in attendance for number 880. A pretty good crowd was on hand to witness the historic milestone.

I don't really get naming a basketball courts after people. But if anyone deserves it, she does. What a great ambassador for the University of Tennessee.

Marathon Madness

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Yesterday I ran a half marathon in the Knoxville Marathon.

Pictures

Start

And they're off!

Up the hill

The herd lumbers up the hill.

Staggering in

Staggering into Neyland Stadium.

Finish

Waiting for the medical staff to carry me out.


Race Information

Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 1:58:32
Placement: 339/1,205
Trivia: Beat Mayor Haslem by 5 seconds

Overall, the marathon was a fun event. The weather conditions were close to ideal (it took mee less than five minutes to realize I should have gone without the sweatshirt). I don't have much experience with these kind of events, but the race seemed to be pretty well organized and run, particularly for an inaugural event. The course was clear and there were ample volunteers along the route. Police took care of the traffic at intersections. Water stops seemed okay (though I only used one). The only negative thing for me was that they ran out of T-shirts in the size I had ordered.

In a few ways, my experience was a study in what not to do. Top five mistakes (in ascending order):

(5) Eating a bunch of junk food the night before
(4) Less than five hours of sleep beforehand
(3) Staring out a little too far in the pack (you're boxed in for a while)
(2) Only two weeks of distance training
(1) Doing the last training run on Friday

Number 1 had the most direct impact on the race, for I felt my calf muscles a little throughout the run. I had intended to do my last run on Thursday, but it was wet that day. So I went on Friday. Not enough recovery time. Had I felt a little fresher and started out at a little faster pace, I might have shaved a few minutes off the time. For I generally felt good until the last couple miles, when my side started bothering me a bit.

One amusing thing I hadn't anticipated was how, uh, overhydrated a few of the runners were. Within ten minutes of the start some of them were already peeling off to relieve themselves--in spots just a few feet from the course. Guess modesty takes a back seat to the clock on race day.

I don't know if there will be another marathon next year, but if there is, I might give it another try. Who knows, I might get really crazy and go the full distance next time.

Federalizing Family Cases

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To a large degree, I've ignored the news the last few days. But I did catch pieces of it. And what I've seen is simply amazing. Just when you think GOPUSA can't sink any lower, it does. Who would have imagined that we'd see emergency sessions of Congress and a president rearranging his travel schedule just to continue feeding a woman who's been virtually brain dead for 15 years?

As this Digby post highlights, most of these "life saving" lawmakers really aren't interested in your run-of-the-mill vegetative state victims. But when the religious right comes calling with a poster child to fan the flames of the latest culture war we're witnessing the lengths to which they go to appease. What was all that we heard about limiting the reach of the federal government?

If the Democrats really wanted to fight fire with fire (crass politics), they'd turn around this wedge and shove it right back in between the business and religious right wings of the GOP. I'm sure there are plenty of money folks who aren't too keen about the prospect of indefinite medical care and litigation for patients in a persistent vegetative state.

Blogosphere Affirmative Action

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Oh brother. The blogosphere is too white and too male. [Apparently livejournal blogs don't count.] What to do?

If I change my identity to a female Kenyan, will I get more trackbacks?

Newsmashing

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Paul Boutin takes a look at how web page markup technology could be incorporated into blogging.

I'm obviously not a computer geek, for I don't recall seeing this kind of application before. But it looks like it could enhance the blog reading experience.

Crime TV

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No, it wasn't just my imagination:

As critic Tim Cuprisin says, CNN has "seemed ready to give Smith her own show." And now they are: Thursday night at 10pm, NewsNight will be preempted for "Ashley Smith: A Hero's Journey." It's a special edition of People in the News. (Last night, NewsNight became "26 Hours: Inside the Manhunt.")
I stopped watching stuff about this, but someone was keeping track. Mind you, this was a few days after the incident
> 7pm: Anderson Cooper 360: "What did Ashley Smith do that may have saved her life?," CNN.com asked. (Anderson is in Beirut.)

> 8pm: Paula Zahn Now: The show examined "the possible reasons behind Atlanta's killing spree."

> 9pm: Larry King Live: "Brian Nichols' brother speaks out in an exclusive prime-time interview," the teaser said.

> 10pm: NewsNight: Aaron Brown's first block was devoted to the shooting aftermath.

We had a few good comments below on why this story has received so much attention. I get some, but not all of the reasons. More on that later.

Providing Rhetorical Aid To The Enemy

President Bush yesterday [emphasis added]:

I like the idea of people running for office. There's a positive effect when you run for office. Maybe some will run for office and say, vote for me, I look forward to blowing up America. I don't know, I don't know if that will be their platform or not. But it's -- I don't think so. I think people who generally run for office say, vote for me, I'm looking forward to fixing your potholes, or making sure you got bread on the table.
Wow, there's a great idea. This guy really does get dangerous when he strays from the teleprompter, doesn't he?

Bankrupting America

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Thomas at newsrack blog identifies a couple of the House Bankruptcy bill offenders.

Interesting aside: Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD-6) is one of the few Congress critters who I've met in person. On a trip back in the college era we chatted with him for a few minutes [a college classmate had interned in his office]. He's also a fellow Seventh-day Adventist. I'm not sure how he squares selling out the interests of the poor to billion dollar credit card companies with the gospel message, but that's a topic for a separate post.

If people like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia are to be believed, what does the Eighth Amendment mean? Basically, nothing.

I guess it must have slipped in as a typo or something.

LAB Blog

League of American Bicyclists.

A bicycling advocacy organization, located in Washington, D.C.

No Timetable

This clears matters up:

President Bush said Wednesday he understands the desire of U.S. coalition partners to withdraw troops from Iraq, but he declined to set a timetable for bringing American forces home and said he hoped others would also stay the course.

"Our troops will come home when Iraq is capable of defending herself," Bush told reporters.

In other words, "not anytime soon."

Presumably if when some sort of stable Iraqi government is erected, we'll be able to reduce the American force down somewhere below the 100,000 troop level. But irrespective of Iraq's ability to "defend herself," we're going to have bases and troops there for years to come. We're sure as heck not going to leave American assets and oil interests up to the custodianship and good graces of our freedom-loving Iraqi hosts.

Common Sense From Alabama

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It's worth pointing our whenever you run across it.

Via Smijer, Southern Baptist minister Jim Evans offers 10 reasons why not to post the Ten Commandments. A good list.

Social Security And Self Interest

Jonathan Chait writes on the Bush administration's failed efforts to make Social Security privatization a "me first" issue.

I'm a little wary about making sweeping generalizations about why people say they are for or against something. In many cases, people simply don't have a well thought out opinion to begin with. And with some issues, such as Social Security, I suspect there's a notable segment of the population who are simply opposed to any change, regardless if it's in their "self-interest" or not. [See also state income tax.] So I tend to read a lot of these opinion polls with a skeptical eye.

Murder Coverage

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Curios.

A guy kills four people in Atlanta, and it receives hours of live TV coverage, including accounts of victims who weren't killed.

A guy kills seven people in Wisconsin (then himself) and if you blink too long, you might miss the story.

Guess the seven victims weren't as "important" as the four.

Good News For UT Basketball

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Well, potentially good news.

"UT Brings End to Buzz Era."

I guess this won't ultimately turn out to be good news unless this coaching search turns out better than the last two.

Evilfinder

What evil is in a name? Consult this site to find out.

Here's a randomly-picked example.

Training Update

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Earlier in the week I noted that I had signed up for the Knoxville half marathon. I'm almost half way through my accelerated training program, so how are things going?

I've done two 11 mile runs this week. Yes, I've felt my muscles the entire week (especially after the first run) and my pace was quite slow (9 minutes/mile). But at least I'm pretty confident I should be able to chug through the event without collapsing on Cherokee Boulevard.

Now my primary concern is not the distance but the start time. Who set this up at 7 am? Not only will it likely be freezing cold, but more importantly it creates a dilemma with my eating schedule. I could wing a 5 mile run without eating in advance, but I don't think that's a good idea here. And generally I need to wait three or four hours after a meal to do serious exercise, or I don't feel so good.

So what does this mean? Do I need to get up at 3:30 am for breakfast? Doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

Not Keeping Up

Dave at Opinari.net discusses how broadcast radio isn't keeping up with the times.

Forget special feeds; I'd be happy with a local station that just played "good" music.

Costly Return On Investment

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice admits he scalped several of his 12 Super Bowl tickets this season, in violation of NFL policy.

According to the report he made at least $1,300 per ticket. Unfortunately for him, I bet this little stunt costs him a whole lot more.

Per police sources:

A man who committed suicide during a routine traffic stop near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, left a note claiming responsibility for killing the husband and mother of a federal judge in Chicago, police sources said Thursday.
If true, this is a bad turn for TV news. Speculation on white supremacist suspects made for a much sexier story.

Roll On

With little fanfare, some in Congress (R-Inc.) are seeking to promote the interests of some road users. Whose interests? [Hint: not yours or mine.]

Hard To Watch

Is it just me or has it been extremely hard to watch TV news lately? Let me count the ways:

Jacko
Martha Stewart's pullover
Hillary
Dan Rather

And what the heck happened to CNN Headline News in the evening? I never really watched it much. But when I did, I expected to see, you know, news. Not another Court TV channel.

Whenever people talk about the network evening news broadcast ratings going down the toilet, they cite the availability of other news outlets--cable TV and the Internet--as a contributing factor. Up to this point, I'd been skeptical of the latter reason, since it's usually more stimulating to watch video than read news articles online. But if TV news keeps this up I may soon be joining those who rely on the Internet as their primary news source.

UPDATE: Oh brother.

Cheap Gasoline

John Stossel has a column in which he rightly points out that (1) TV news reporting on gasoline stinks, and (2) the price of gasoline, adjusted for inflation, isn't anywhere near the all time high. Stossel then goes on to rave about "what a bargain we're getting from oil companies."

It's true that gas is still relatively "cheap." But we are still paying a lot more than two years ago. And that's new spending which is being taking away from other sectors of the economy. Sooner or later, that's going to take a toll. Over the past 50 years, there's a pretty strong correlation between oil price spikes and bear markets. So this really is a news story.

I wonder if Stossel would still be writing on how "cheap" gas was if the federal government suddenly slapped a 25 cent/gallon tax on it.

U.S. Military Making Stuff Up?

I'm shocked.

As Holden notes, we all know what the first casualty of war is. Funny how some Washington "journalists" continue to relay Pentagon talking points without expressing the slightest degree of skepticism.

Five Cents Per Song

Via Slashdot, a university visiting scholar proposes that the music industry could make more money if it lowered download fees to five cents a song and significantly grows demand.

I'm sure the music industry has had plenty of consultants weigh in on what the pricing sweet spot is to maximize profits. And unless free file sharing goes off the charts, I don't suspect we'll be significant pricing changes. But as a music consumer, five cents per song sounds like a great idea.

Democratic Senators' Wall of Shame

A lot of people have already noted this, but it's worth repeating. Those voting to help advance the bankruptcy bill:

Biden (D-DE)
Byrd (D-WV)
Carper (D-DE)
Conrad (D-ND)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Salazar (D-CO)
Stabenow (D-MI)
I haven't studied the details of this bill in depth, but from what I've seen there's nothing in it that helps working American families. And that used to be what the Democratic party was all about.

Spot The Killers

Via Volokh, here's a quiz in which you analyze ten photos to determine if the the subject is a programming language inventor or serial killer. [Is there a connection between the two?]

I scored 9 out of 10. Which seems pretty good, unless you make the one mistake with someone you know.

Firefighters/Police Officers

Here's a nifty efficiency idea: You know how when there aren't any fires, the firefighters don't have much to do other than to cook and clean their fire trucks? How about having them use that down time to fight crime?

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom suggested Monday that the city park fire trucks and their crews on streets in violence-prone neighborhoods to deter crime.

A thug, he suggested, would be less likely to shoot someone in front of a firefighter.
. . .
His idea is to pull the firefighters out of their firehouses, where they're stationed when not responding to fires and medical emergencies, and plant them in their rigs nearby -- visible to the public. There are 43 fire stations in San Francisco.

The neat thing is that when the shooting erupts out on the streets, the firefighters will have their water hoses handy to douse the violence and restore order.

Maximum Minimum Wage

Nathan Newman the ugly details on Senator Rick Santorum's (R-PA) minimum wage decrease "increase."

Even though I've been aware of it for years, I continue to be amazed how blatantly these people favor wealth over work . . . and continue to get away with it. You'd think sooner or later many people around here would figure out that they're really getting screwed by the very party they support. But apparently the flag and ten commandment waving is enough for many to forget basic self-interest.

I May Have Made A Mistake

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I've been seeing this girl for a couple months now. On Saturday we went hiking in the mountains and the sparks were really flying. On the way back through Gatlinburg we saw one of those wedding chapels and decided to take the plunge. . . .

No. I kid.

On Saturday night I was actually browsing at this site. Suddenly, a crazed force took over the mouse and now I'm registered for the half marathon.

I know that for many runners, 13 miles isn't a big deal. And my general health should be good enough to handle it. The problem is that I hadn't been running much the past month or so; I've primarily been cycling. And when I did run, it was always usually for about 45 minutes. In fact, my longest runs ever are only 11 miles (around Cades Cove). So, I'm not at the level I should be for this.

Therefore, on Sunday I launched an accelerated training program, jogging for 90 minutes. Lest I was unsure on this point, my muscles have since reminded me there's quite a difference between a 45 minute run and a 90 minute one. Probably going to be feeling it tomorrow.

One good thing about waiting until the last minute to train for a "long" run is that at least you don't have to suffer through many training runs. Ninety minutes of jogging is kind of boring.

Congratulations

. . . to the Tennessee Lady Vols, 2005 SEC Tournament champions!

Now, if the UT Athletic Department would get serious about the men's program and find a winning coach, this season would end on a good note.

American IQ

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If you ever suspect there are a lot of "dumb" Americans around, perhaps it's because there are:

# The United States is 49th in the world in literacy (The New York Times, Dec. 12, 2004).

# The United States ranked 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

# One-third of our science teachers and one-half of our math teachers did not major in those subjects. (Quoted on "The West Wing," but you can trust it -- their researchers are legendary.)

# Twenty percent of Americans think the sun orbits the Earth. Seventeen percent believe the Earth revolves around the sun once a day (The Week, Jan. 7, 2005).

# "The International Adult Literacy Survey ... found that Americans with less than nine years of education 'score worse than virtually all of the other countries'" (Jeremy Rifkin's superbly documented book The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, p.78).

# Our workers are so ignorant, and lack so many basic skills, that American businesses spend $30 billion a year on remedial training (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004). No wonder they relocate elsewhere!

Twenty percent of Americans think the sun orbits the earth? Suddenly some of the opinion poll findings I see make more sense.

Read the whole piece to see why America may not "Number 1" anymore:

No. 1? In most important categories we're not even in the Top 10 anymore. Not even close.

The USA is "No. 1" in nothing but weaponry, consumer spending, debt, and delusion.

Indeed.

Pinging Freedom

Joshua Livestro offers an entertaining piece in which he contends that (1) the "Western media" was a catalyst to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, therefore (2) it should now be playing a similar role in the Middle East, but (3) since the mainstream media is in bed with the dictators, it's (4) now up to bloggers to help spread liberty and democracy abroad.

Uh, no. Last time I checked, journalists have the responsibility of simply reporting events. It's not their job to promote political movements.

Moreover, there's no small irony in Livestro's criticism of how the mainstream media cavorts with the tyrants:

But we all know the MSM: they've never come across a dictator they didn't like or at least want to be friendly with in return for "access" (access to what, by the way? The truth?).
Sounds a little like Washington D.C., doesn't it?

As far as bloggers grabbing their notepads and heading to Beirut, it's a nice idea. But for the most part, the only people with that degree of commitment who can afford to jaunt around the globe are already doing so, courtesy of the mainstream media.

Volunteer Tailgate Party

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. . . over at Miss Zoot.

February News Ratings

This doesn't speak well regarding the direction of TV news channel viewership. It beats me why most of those shows gaining viewers are doing so. And it's quite disappointing to see Countdown's numbers getting worse.

How many people can be left to watch CNBC primetime?

Don't Try This At Home

Every quarter or so the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (for attorneys) puts out a newsletter. One of its interesting features is the section listing disciplinary actions against bad lawyers. Typically, misconduct involves an attorney (1) stealing a client's money; (2) neglecting cases; (3) failing to respond to something; (4) conflict of interest; or (5) committing a crime (e.g., drunk driving).

Here's a winning entry from the Winter 2005 edition:

"John Smith" (Shelby County):

In one case, [John Smith] prepared a fictitious court order purporting to award $170,000 to his client when there was no such order. In a second matter, [Mr. Smith] falsely informed his client that he had prepared a motion to set aside the dismissal of that matter when no such motion had been prepared. He further mailed to his client a fictitious motion with a false certificate of service to all parties.
Hmmm. I wonder how long Mr. Smith thought he could get away with those documents (especially the $170,000 order) until someone figured out something was amiss.

A study by the British Home Office has found that that country's use of surveillance cameras has not been effective in reducing crime.

This would be good to remember the next time someone wants to hang up more public cameras in America for purposes of "security."

Outlawing The Future

I guess banning nonexistent gay marriages isn't enough. Now there's this:

A conservative lawmaker is again drawing criticism for a bill he says is about gay rights but some of his colleagues say is about political posturing. State Rep. Brian Duprey, R-Hampden, wants the Legislature to forbid a woman from ending a pregnancy based on the projected sexual orientation of a fetus. He said the bill looks into the future in case scientists find what he described as a "homosexual gene."
Maine must be a well-run ship if these pressing matters are the type of issues its lawmakers have the luxury of grappling with.

Weird On Both Ends

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A woman who exhumes her lover's ashes for spite clearly has issues. But what kind of person buries himself with beer and cigarettes to begin with?

Follow The Logic

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Some guy at Blogs For Bush notes that U.S. life expectancy hit a record in 2003.

The logical conclusion?

Guess what? If we're living longer it means that life is getting better. Got that? Better. Things are better than they were before - "before", in this case, being before President Bush took office.
Amazing, isn't it? After two short years President Bush was able to not only (1) decrease heart disease, cancer, and stroke fatalities, but he also (2) made everyone's life "better" than it was in 2000.

Sometimes I just don't give that guy enough credit.

Putin's Read

Tim Grieve:

When George Bush sat down with Vladimir Putin in Bratislava last week to deliver his long-awaited lecture on civil liberties and freedom of the press, Newsweek says Putin shot back with an attack of his own: "We didn't criticize you when you fired those reporters at CBS."

Bush was apparently slack-jawed, and senior White House aides were angry. "Putin thought we'd fired Dan Rather," one administration official told Time. "It was like something out of '1984.'"

Newsweek, rising to the defense of freedom of the press in these United States, says it's "all too clear" that Putin sees the relationship between Bush and the American media as being "just like his own." Presumably, that means that Putin thinks Bush controls the U.S. media in the same way that he controls the Russian media. We can't imagine where he got that idea.

Apparently Putin looked deep into the soul of the American news media machine, and it looks somewhat familiar to his own.

Pick Me! Pick Me!

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Lately I've noticed the TV news stations are starting to consult "the bloggers" for news analysis. They're now getting special segments, and it's changing the way the networks report a story.

For instance, say the powers that be in Nauru decide to switch their currency from the Australian dollar to the Papua New Guinea kina, triggering a currency crisis in Oceania. In the good old days the newsies would consult a local journalist (if there was on in Naurau) or more likely pay an academic ("a Naurau currency analyst") to explain to the audience the significance of the Naurauian bombshell.

With our new media, you might get a journalist (if one exists) and you might get the Naurau currency analyst. But now you'll also get bonus blogoshere coverage. The anchors will either call in a (1) blogger/self-appointed blog expert, or (2) their paid Internet web surfers, and ask the question every American wants to know: What are the bloggers saying about the Naurauian currency fiasco?

[Financial aside: I'm guessing these "what are the blogs saying" segments don't cost as much as it does to bring in that traditional "expert" commentary.]

I'm not sure how the network blog readers go about selecting the blogs they feature on TV, but if any of you happen by this site, just drop me an e-mail and I'll crank out some "expert" blog analysis on virtually any subject you want. Heh.