Wednesday, December 22, 2004

In Ohio

The Greatest Story Never Told

A touch-screen voting machine 'flipped' a woman’s vote from John F. Kerry to George W. Bush. The woman was visibly upset, but it seemed to us poll watchers like a mere computer glitch, no different than a super market checkout machine that records an incorrect price for lettuce. It seemed that way, at least, until reports came in from all around the country about other electronic vote flipping. In Youngstown, Ohio, it went on all day without the machines being fixed.
Was a rash of faulty computers to blame? Possibly. Except that almost without exception, every switched vote went in the same direction…from Kerry to Bush.

Statistics from Warren County

Exit Polls Leave Little Doubt that in a Free and Fair Election John Kerry Would Have Won both the Electoral College and the Popular Vote (PDF)

Stevens Creek School

Far-Right fundamentalists launch intimidation campaign against Stevens Creek Elementary School Principal in Cupertino, CA

"[I]n terms of the Founding Fathers themselves, the real issue we are dealing with in this incident is not whether they were devout Christians but whether they believed religion or church needed to be an integral part of the Government of the United States. "

The only way to ensure that your devout practice of your faith is protected, really protected, is to protect everyone's devout practice of their faith.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Friday, December 17, 2004

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Spinning Yarn: but what can I make with it?

I've been spinning recently, in between studying for exams (and taking them). I finished off some cranberry-peach-pinkish roving I bought almost two years ago (actually, I bought all my roving in about the same 3-month period), and am halfway done with some dark peach/cream roving I bought from the same person, same kind of roving, just different colors.

I'm not very good at figuring out how much I can knit with something, though, but I think this wool I'm spinning up now (into something that'll knit on, eh, size 5 or 7 US needles - that's around 4.0mm) could make a very pretty little vest. If I have enough yarn.

Otherwise...maybe spiral-knit legwarmers and a matching hat. Or something.

My spinning wheel is a Kromski Minstrel, which is a castle-style wheel, and I love it. I use it almost exclusively with Scotch tension, not the double drive.

So, spinning is good because I can sit and spin and watch an episode of The Avengers or The X-Files or something else on DVD, and turn my brain off from the exam-studying, without worrying that I'll get bogged down and lose a whole day or something, which is what could happen if I stick my nose in a book other than a textbook.

So, what's a good way of gauging what I can knit with something, based on what I have?

Well, there's the Knitting Fiend's yardage estimator. Or the conversion chart over at Fiber2Yarn. Or maybe has something.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Good grief, I'm actually offended

by my stupid CALI lesson on Assault.

Man leans over woman lying in her bed and makes indecent proposals.

Assault, or not?

Assault is the deliberate creation of an apprehension of a harmful touching. (If the harmful touching occurs, that's battery. The intent can be to create apprehension of touch, or the actual touch.)

Here's an excerpt of why my 'no' or 'maybe' answers were wrong:

"In any event, the man leaned over the bed: that's an overt act. Also, I think the only reasonable assumption to make on these facts is the man is close enough to touch the woman, so this places her in apprehension of imminent offensive body contact."

The only point that might make it possible to infer apprehension of harmful (unwanted) physical contact is the fact that the woman in this scenario is in her bed. There's no context of any kind, and I'm sorry, as an educated Western feminist, "indecent" to me is not a code word translating to "unwanted".

A man leans over my bed and whispers something "naughty" in my ear? And that's assault? Did you read the actual explanation here? "[T]he man is close enough to touch the woman, so this places her in apprehension of imminent offensive body contact." You realize I can infer from that statement that any time a man gets close enough to touch a woman, that's assault.

Are you kidding me?

Right, and all sex is rape.

Let's have some context here, people, for Pete's sake. How about "A strange man"? Then I might say: bed, 'indecent', leaning, okay, that could be assault.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Money Where the Mouth Is


"If someone is going to run the day-to-day operations for the Republican apparatus to elect U.S. senators across the country, then dog-gone-it, it better not be somebody who practices a lifestyle that is diametrically opposed to the evangelical Christian base that delivered George W. Bush and the Republicans in the Senate the victory they saw in November," he says. Glover says Allen's executive director recently resigned because he was outed as a homosexual.
Soon enough, it will be illegal for anyone to employ homosexuals. The people have spoken, after all. And definitely, no more man dates.

This is America. In America, we don't believe in that.

We are a moral people. A people who have built diversity into our very foundation. A people who are proud to be a nation of immigrants, a nation of tolerance, and a nation of justice. In America, we believe in the Bill of Rights, we believe in equal protection under the law, and we believe that all of us should have the same opportunity to work hard, succeed, and live the American Dream.

Moral people do not hurt others for being "different".

Leave that kind of crap to people like the Taliban.

Evolutionary Theology

Re-visit Beautiful Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay!

Memo Ordered Silence in Iraqi Abuse Case

"The only thing that torture guarantees is pain," [Former FBI, interrogation instructor] Navarro told the AP Tuesday. "It never guarantees the truth."

US forces face new inmate abuse claims

FBI saw 'abuses at Guantanamo'

BI counter-terrorism agents sent to the Guantanamo Bay camp complained to the Pentagon after witnessing "highly aggressive" interrogations and apparent prisoner abuse.
In a letter leaked last night to the Associated Press, Thomas Harrington, who led the team, told Maj-Gen Donald J Ryder, the army's chief law enforcement officer, that the Pentagon ignored FBI complaints about a series of incidents that matched the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.

ACLU says special forces threatened abuse witnesses.

ACLU Torture FOIA lawsuit.

There is growing evidence that the abuse of detainees was not aberrational but systemic, and that senior officials either approved of the abuse or were deliberately indifferent to it.

Rumsfeld Hates Soldiers. Well, that's what the article *should* be called.

Troops grill Rumsfeld over Iraq The BBC's more polite than I am.

Old Soldiers Back On Duty

Remember the saying about absolute power? Yeah. Absolute's fun when you have it. Not so much when someone else has it over you.

Ohio Vote Fraud

Conyers to Hold Hearings on Ohio Vote Fraud

The Clinton Curtis Affidavit. Clint's a programmer who was asked to create vote-fraud software. Purely as an intellectual exercise, I'm sure.

running report on the hearings, by William Rivers Pitt.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Dominion Theology

From over on ljdemocrats on dominion theology:

The gist of it is that Jesus can't come back until a "revived" church takes over the world and everything in it.
Once the church has purged all evil from the world, Jesus can come back.

So, the reading that I'm familiar with, that Biblical prophecies

a. are like 'signposts' that something is coming; and,
b. are predestined and will happen whether you try to help or not,

Is completely incorrect in the dominionist paradigm. What dominion/"Kingdom Now" types actually believe are that Biblical prophecies are simply instructions on how to bring about certain events.

Because God is what, your puppet? Just waiting for you to pull on all the right strings? Let's see there's the "wars and rumors of wars" string, and the "Jerusalem" string, and all the other strings, and just pull them, and *poof*. Look, everybody, it's Jesus!

If you force these things to occur, God will do your bidding and return.

I don't get how that fits with an image of an omnipotent God, because it sure sounds more like casting a magic spell or something. Do X, do Y, and God will appear!

I don't know about you, but I'm flashing back to Kevin Costner in "Field of Dreams", and I'm pretty sure a bunch of dead baseball players aren't God.

Maybe I should take that last statement back. I do live in Red Sox Nation, now.

(For more on dominionism, check out
Kit's Concatenation or twistedchick,
Theocracy Watch,
and Brad Hicks)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform

We've been studying medical malpractice in my Torts class, so I allegedly now know what the word means. (Yeah, it means the same thing you thought it means, I just read a thick book and went to class to verify it. Science is all about verifiability, baby.)

And, over thanksgiving holiday, malpractice insurance and capping jury awards came up as a subject of conversation, and I wound up saying something that probably made me look extremely cynical (which is funny, because I usually let J do that, but she wasn't there, so I stepped up as best as I could).

(*waves at J* Miss you, dollface! Wish you were here! Though, probably not right this second, 'cause, you know, studying for midterms and my Torts final.)

The cynical statement: I'm not sure there's a direct relationship between capping malpractice awards and the insurance doctors pay. Insurance companies are going to charge doctors whatever they think they can get away with, and they're already got a certain payment level right now. Why would they drop it just because malpractice awards have gone down? That's not what they're in business to do.

So, and here's me dropping the cynicism, instead of capping jury awards in the hopes a trickle-down Reaganomic-esque effect will save doctors from absurdly high malpractice insurance rates, go and and cap the damn rates, instead.

At the very least, there's a direct causal relationship you can affect if you do that.

In other news, Corp Reform discusses the "McDonald's Coffee Case". Now, the truly cool thing is we talked about that case in my Torts class (though not when talking about comparative negligence, which might've made more sense).

Yes, whenever someone hears about that case, they think - she spilled coffee in her lap in a moving car! Git deserves it. I sure thought that.

Well, actually, upon closer inspection, the coffee was negligently, dangerously hot, and the car wasn't moving.

What's negligently hot? Pushing 200 degrees, Fahrenheit, when anything over 140 constitutes a burn hazard. Let's just describe that 180-190 McDonald's coffee temperature range as "well beyond the ordinary consumer's expectations". So, Stella (the plaintiff) was found by the jury to be 20% negligent, and McDonald's the rest - which means in a comparative fault regime, Stella's award for damages for McDonald's is minus the 20% due to her own negligence.

Note that it took a jury award of 2.6 million to get McDonald's attention. The preceding (as Corp Reform points out) 700 other injuries from the uber-hot coffee didn't.

And frankly, that's part of one of the purposes of the tort system: deterrence. And the only way to get the attention of a company that large is hit them with an award whose amount is significant to them. Not to you and me. To them. And other companies like them.

(It appears I'm riffing off topics brought up by Making Light today. Well, at least that way, they're interesting topics.)

And thank you, Corp Reform and Making Light, for helping me study for my Torts final today. I appreciate it.

Email Scam PSA

When is an email legit corporate spam, and when is it someone "phishing" for your personal contact or credit card information?

So, I got a 10 out of 10 on the first Phish test. All it asks is that you look at an email, and decide if it's bull, or not.

And a 9 out of 10 on the second test.

Wanna know how I do it? I don't trust people who tell me my account my be closed/suspended, etc., if I don't do what they want*. That's pretty much my rule of thumb. Plus, sure, there's the years of experience floating in the back of my head on

a. how corporations talk to consumers, i.e., me;
b. who I do business with.

Not that hard.

*In fact, that's why I missed the one on the Phish II test. I was overly suspicious.

Stopping Email Fraud (PDF). From MailFrontier.

Phishing Top Ten (PDF). Tips to avoid being Phished, from MailFrontier.

(Hat tip to Making Light.)

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Sneak Peek into My Mind

I should not be allowed to watch the intro credits to the TV show "Due South", because I get all homesick and misty for the great white north in the span of about a quarter note. I will never stop being from Alaska, even when I've been gone from there for another 17 years. Look at that sweeping vista of snow! *sob* I can smell the crispness in the air from here.

*gets all misty just thinking about it*

"Guinea Pig Kids"

Debunking "Guinea Pig Kids" and More Guinea Pig Kids

Guinea Pig Kids, including transcript.

Democracy in Action

Guerillanews has some pictures of American Democracy™.

Torture OK in US

Attorneys for the prisoners argued that some were held solely on evidence gained by torture, which they said violated fundamental fairness and U.S. due process standards. But [deputy associate attorney general Brian] Boyle argued in a similar hearing Wednesday that the detainees "have no constitutional rights enforceable in this court."

And THEN that same attorney says

that if the military's combatant status review tribunals "determine that evidence of questionable provenance [torture] were reliable, nothing in the due process clause (of the Constitution) prohibits them from relying on it."

But THEN he says there's nothing like torture going at GTMO, even though Amnesty International and the International Red Cross seem to disagree.

I tell you, I just don't know who to believe: guy working for most secretive, power-hungry US Administration in history, or watchdog groups of longstanding international repute?

PoTAYto, poTAHto.

Now, in another article, the same attorney was speaking with a different judge:

"If a little old lady in Switzerland writes checks to what she thinks is a charitable organization for Afghanistan orphans, but it's really supporting . .. al Qaeda, is she an enemy combatant?" [U.S. District Court Judge] Green asked.
Boyle said the woman could be, but it would depend on her intentions. "It would be up to the military to decide as to what to believe," he said.

It would be up to the military to decide what to believe.

Now see, I don't want someone thinking I don't respect one of the greatest institutions America has going for it: service. No, no, no. What bothers me is that, unless Switzerland is a new front on "the war", and the BBC just isn't reporting troop movements yet, it is now the job of the American military to determine if every single person on the planet may be detained by the US, sans rights.

Marriage Debate

Jonathan Rauch points out the blindingly obvious over at

the rule that infertility disqualifies all gay couples from marriage but disqualifies no straight couples is a crass double standard that demolishes the very principle (marriage=procreation) on which it's supposed to be based.

(via Alas, a Blog)

20 Years Later: Bhopal

Fusion Reaction reminds us that yesterday, Dec 03, was the 20th anniversary of the chemical spill in Bhopal.

Today is the 20th anniversary of the world's worst industrial accident. In the early morning hours of December 3, 1984, a toxic chemical leaked from a Union Carbide factory in northern India and killed thousands of people in their sleep. The estimates of the dead ranged from 3,000 to 10,000 and we may never know exactly how many died.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Shabbat in Space

A Responsum Regarding Space Travel

Fascinating discussion of when a Jew should observe the Shabbat in space. When days stop behaving like days, do you stick with the sun, or follow your watch?

Since the eighteenth century, rabbis have discussed how to observe Shabbat in “inner America”, Norway, Sweden, Alaska, Iceland and other areas where the sun does not rise or set for months on end. Polar days are unusually long; space days are unusually short – but the general problem is similar.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Maybe you should read history before you teach it

In Rolling Their Eyes, Maybe, over at Hullabaloo, Digby mentions some, well, hullabaloo over "a teacher [reportedly] suing his principal for allegedly refusing to let him teach the Declaration of Independence because it mentions God".

Quoth the quoted article,

"It's a fact of American history that our founders were religious men, and to hide this fact from young fifth-graders in the name of political correctness is outrageous and shameful," said Williams' attorney, Terry Thompson.

Digby points out, quite clearly, that both the founders and the nation 'itself', so to speak, make the point that this is not a Christian nation, and that the founders were not trying to create one, not being all...ardently religious men themselves.

For example,

The 1796 treaty with Tripoli, negotiations begun under Washington and signed by Adams states:
[As] the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.

Is it so hard to understand?

One garter-stitch scarf in variegated yarn

One garter-stitch scarf in Jiffy's worsted weight "quick and easy mohair look yarn", fall colors ('El Paso', I think), variegated yarn. Finished yesterday while visiting at a friend's for the holiday.

Cast on about 35 stitches on size 10.5 needles. Knit back and forth in garter stitch forever. Repeat until 5-6 feet in length, whatever suits. Cast off loosely.

That many stitches makes a rather broad scarf. Some people like 'em skinny and very long, but I used to have an off-white scarf about this width and style and, apparently, have always wished to recreate something similar. The nice thing about a thick garter scarf like this is you can drape it around your neck, turn the edge back to look like a shawl collar, and pin shut with a broach. I rather like the idea of that look.

Cool - Free Lunch

Free Lunch: Freegans prove there is such a thing as they Dumpster-dive for food for themselves and the homeless

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Where's His Domicile?

Over on Eschaton, Atrios links to Is the senator an 'inhabitant' of Pennsylvania?, an article proposing that Rick Santorum is not a resident of the state which he represents, which is a violation of Article I of the US Constitution, which requires a representative to be a resident of the locale he or she represents.

Well, the article says,

Rick Santorum last won election in November 2000, when he owned the house at 111 Stephens Lane in Penn Hills plus a house in Virginia. Where he was an "inhabitant" at the time only he can say.

Actually, that's quite true, if my supposition is correct.

I'm guessing that the term resident or inhabitant is what in law school we refer to as domiciliary. Is Senator Santorum's domicile in Pa or Va?

You can own lots of residences, but only have one domicile. That is your "permanent residence", so to speak. Your true home base. The place you do not plan to leave. You only ever have one of those at a time, and when you move from one state to another (like I did, recently), you might be construed as still being domiciled in the previous state, even though you're living day-to-day in a different one, unless you make it clear - by word or deed - your intention to put down roots and stay in the new locale.

Ways to show that intent? That varies from case to case and state to state. From anecdotal data, I hear Alaska relies heavily on voter registration as an indicator of domicile. From my casebook on Civil Procedure, New Hampshire appears rather fond of voter registration, business incorporation and activities, and where you file your taxes. (Voter registration is nice because you're only supposed to vote once, in one place, and that seems to parallel the whole 'domicile' concept.)

Mostly, though, if you say so, well, you're kinda presumed to be more aware of your intent than anyone else.

Senator Santorum could have almost no contacts at all with Pennsylvania, and still be domiciled there, if he hasn't moved his domicile elsewhere. You're always domiciled somewhere, even if it's not where you are at the moment.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Now, *this* is what I call Christianity

Coming Out for One of Their Own

Mr. Repressed, aka Fred Phelps, comes to protest a gay congregation member in an Oklahoma church, and the church says back that unlike Phelp's god, theirs is big enough to love everybody.

Yes, you *can* read the laws affecting you

Last month, Helen Chenoweth-Hage attempted to board a United Airlines flight from Boise to Reno when she was pulled aside by airline personnel for additional screening, including a pat-down search for weapons or unauthorized materials.
Chenoweth-Hage, an ultra-conservative former Congresswoman (R-ID), requested a copy of the regulation that authorizes such pat-downs.
"She said she wanted to see the regulation that required the additional procedure for secondary screening and she was told that
she couldn't see it," local TSA security director Julian Gonzales told the Idaho Statesman (10/10/04).
"She refused to go through additional screening [without seeing the regulation], and she was not allowed to fly," he said. "It's pretty simple."
Chenoweth-Hage wasn't seeking disclosure of the internal criteria used for screening passengers, only the legal authorization for passenger pat-downs. Why couldn't they at least let her see that? asked Statesman commentator Dan Popkey.
"Because we don't have to," Mr. Gonzales replied crisply.
"That is called 'sensitive security information.' She's not allowed to see it, nor is anyone else," he said.
Thus, in a qualitatively new development in U.S. governance, Americans can now be obligated to comply with legally-binding regulations that are unknown to them, and that indeed they are forbidden to know.
This is not some dismal Eastern European allegory. It is part of a continuing transformation of American government that is leaving it less open, less accountable and less susceptible to rational deliberation as a vehicle for change.

Two points:

1. If you aren't reading Steven Aftergood's Secrecy News, you should be.
2. If this refusal to show an American citizen the law authorizing someone to pull them aside doesn't bother you, why?

I'm a law student, and as such, I have access to nifty tools that make searching US law easier, but there's nothing barring you, yes, you, from reading the US Code if you feel like it, or the Code of Federal Regulations. (Try here, here, here, or here for the US Code, and here for the Code of Federal Regulations, and here for the specific sections of Title 49 I refer to below.)

Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) describes the regulations underlying the TSA. Now, Title 49, Subtitle B, Chapter XII, Subchapter B, Part 1520 basically deals with describing what categories of data are and are not sensitive security information.

49CF41520.5(b)(9) says

(9) Security screening information. The following information regarding security screening under aviation or maritime transportation security requirements of Federal law:
(i) Any procedures, including selection criteria and any comments, instructions, and implementing guidance pertaining thereto, for screening of persons, accessible property, checked baggage, U.S. mail, stores, and cargo, that is conducted by the Federal government or any other authorized person.[Emphasis added.]
(ii) Information and sources of information used by a passenger or property screening program or system, including an automated screening system.
(iii) Detailed information about the locations at which particular screening methods or equipment are used, only if determined by TSA to be SSI.
(iv) Any security screener test and scores of such tests.
(v) Performance or testing data from security equipment or screening systems.
(vi) Any electronic image shown on any screening equipment monitor, including threat images and descriptions of threat images for threat image projection systems.

is considered "sensitive security information", that is not shared except with appropriate personnel. (Note: This blog entry was edited on Dec 10, 2004 to correct a mis-cite of mine. Sidra.)

That's all well and good, except, Ms. Chenoweth-Hage allegedly asked after the screener's authority to pull her aside, not the selection criteria that resulted in her being pulled aside. (If the latter case, like I said, that is categorized as "sensitive security information". The appropriate answer might have been, "per Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1520.5, I cannot share the specific details of our screening program with you". The appropriate answer was not "no".)

Part 1542.5 of Title 49 (49CFR1542.5) is the TSA's inspection authority of the airports themselves. Their right to be onsite, basically.

Part 1544 discusses screening. Basically, you have to screen.

Sec. 1544.207 Screening of individuals and property.
(a) Applicability of this section. This section applies to the inspection of individuals, accessible property, checked baggage, and cargo as required under this part.
(b) Locations within the United States at which TSA conducts screening. Each aircraft operator must ensure that the individuals or property have been inspected by TSA before boarding or loading on its aircraft. This paragraph applies when TSA is conducting screening using TSA employees or when using companies under contract with TSA. [Emphasis added.]

Section 1544.201 provides an overview of what a screening program should achieve and that if a passenger refuses screening, an airline is to refuse to transport. Note that it does not present specifics of criteria aiports should use in screening. That's left to each individual program.

Sec. 1544.201 Acceptance and screening of individuals and accessible property.
(a) Preventing or deterring the carriage of any explosive, incendiary, or deadly or dangerous weapon. Each aircraft operator must use the measures in its security program to prevent or deter the carriage of any weapon, explosive, or incendiary on or about each individual's person or accessible property before boarding an aircraft or entering a sterile area.
(b) Screening of individuals and accessible property. Except as provided in its security program, each aircraft operator must ensure that each individual entering a sterile area at each preboard screening checkpoint for which it is responsible, and all accessible property under that individual's control, are inspected for weapons, explosives, and incendiaries as provided in Sec. 1544.207.
(c) Refusal to transport. Each aircraft operator must deny entry into a sterile area and must refuse to transport--
(1) Any individual who does not consent to a search or inspection of his or her person in accordance with the system prescribed in this part; and
(2) Any property of any individual or other person who does not consent to a search or inspection of that property in accordance with the system prescribed by this part.

And part 1540.107 (49CFR1540.107) discusses the "responsibilities of passengers and other individuals and persons", in particular, passenger submission to screening and inspection.

1540.107 Submission to screening and inspection.
No individual may enter a sterile area or board an aircraft without submitting to the screening and inspection of his or her person and accessible property in accordance with the procedures being applied to control access to that area or aircraft under this subchapter.

I believe the above grouping of regulations:
  • the authority of the TSA to inspect and oversee inspections (1542.5),
  • coupled with the requirement that airports conduct inspections (1544.207),
  • and what those inspections should achieve(1544.201),
  • coupled with the requirement that passengers submit to inspections(1540.107),

would qualify as demonstrating an airport screener's authority to screen and inspect -- whether that screening included more than one phase or not, or secondary inspections of some subset of travelers -- Ms. Chenoweth-Hage as she tried to travel on United Airlines.

So, why did these folks refuse to show their authority to search an airplane passenger, when asked? Barring confusion over exactly what was requested? Since the regulations above are public law, and thus not "sensitive security information" as described in 49CFR1520.7(c)?


I'll tell you why. Because they figured they could get away with it. Because they knew she had to bend over and take it, if she wanted to fly.

Now, what I actually found just as troubling as this behavior if not more so is sub-section 109,

1540.109 Prohibition against interference with screening personnel.
No person may interfere with, assault, threaten, or intimidate screening personnel in the performance of their screening duties under this subchapter.

Because, how do you define "interfere with"? Is asking a screener a question about their authority 'interfering'?

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Sunday, November 14, 2004



Fascinating little article on "Exformation" as opposed to "information": deliberately discarding information that you know your reader already has.

I think an example of a print author who does this quite well might be Stephen King, Mr. 'Big Mac and Fries' Novelist himself. He teaches you the shorthand in his particular book, his particular character(s), and then uses it. By the time you get to the end of the novel Misery, you understand exactly why Paul Sheldon shrieks "Africa!" at the top of his lungs.

The article asks, however, what kind of assumptions can writers for the web make? In a global medium, basically, who is going to understand your American-pop-culture joke? Yet, explaining too much can be as bad as too litle.


Friday, November 12, 2004

You say 'unclassified', I say 'classified'

Secrecy-oriented Bush Administration strikes again:


In a momentous expansion of the apparatus of government secrecy, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is requiring employees and others to sign legally binding non-disclosure agreements as a condition of access to certain categories of unclassified information.
Up to now, non-disclosure agreements have only been used by government agencies to regulate access to classified information. In fact, they are one of the defining features of the national security classification system, along with security clearances and the "need to know" principle. As far as Secrecy News could determine, such classification-like controls have never before been systematically imposed on access to unclassified information.

From Steven Aftergood's "Secrecy News".

100 Things to Hate About Me

100 Things To Hate About Me:

1. I dislike fads.
2. I'm a twin and have no other siblings.
3. I like a good cigar now and then.
4. There are more things on this Earth that I want to do than I have time for. This is alternately thrilling and horrifying.
5. I hate karaoke.
6. I sing superbly, or have in the past.
7. I am sometimes taken to be extremely arrogant. From my POV, I'm trying to be very precise about what I know how to do.
8.. I'm an INTJ on the Meyers-Brigg index.
9. I appear to have some kind of dairy-related allergy.
10. Artichokes make me fall asleep. Instantly. Not in a good way. Marinated artichoke hearts do not.
11. I have about a migraine a year, these days.
12. I don't like foods that stick to my teeth, even if I like the taste.
13. My idea of a great vacation is to get in my truck and tramp around for two weeks, camping willy-nilly.
14. I color my hair. Right now, various bits are blue.
15. I do things that scare the snot out of me, because they scare the snot out of me.
16. I've been chased by a bear.
17. On more than one morning when I was a child, I woke up to find our path to the bus stop closed "on account of moose".
18. My elementary school burned down when I was in 4th grade, over christmas break.
19. I love Monty Python.
20. I believe teachers and librarians are two of the most important types of people in the world.
21. I ran away from home in 6th grade.
22. I collect cookbooks.
23. I own a copy of the Hare Krishna book.
24. I collect dictionaries.
25. I went to Japan and didn't take any pictures at all.
26. I'm a published author.
27. I'm terrible at remembering my old addresses. Zip codes are the bane of my existence.
28. I came in second in a spelling bee, once.
29. I've performed choral work in Swahili, French, Spanish, Latin, German and English. 3 of those in one work, even.
30. I've always lived somewhere where there is earthquakes, until now.
31. It took me over 5 years to read The Tao of Physics, by Fritijof Capra. I started it in high school, and finished it in college. After I'd taken the right classes.
32. I always knew I wanted to study science, and I was right.
33. My father sang opera.
34. My first program was written in BASIC.
35. I own an oil painting.
36. I've studied Japanese and German. I prefer Japanese.
37. My natural father tells a story about me and my twin brother singing in Latin. As infants.
38. I have a photo of my (alleged) aura.
39. I felt constantly misunderstood as a child.
40. There is a certain category of 60's/70's "folk rock" that I think of as Sunday morning music. Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce, and CSNY.
41. I resent the implication that I have to be a Christian in order to be a patriotic American.
42. I miss each and every dog that's ever been a part of my life.
43. I've mushed dogs.
44. I avoid popcorn, but sometimes crave it.
45. I've been thoughtless and cruel in the past, and consciously try to be thoughtful and kind in the present.
46. I can bake an apple pie, including crust, from scratch.
47. The largest number of people I've ever cooked for is between 10 and 15.
48. I have more than one totem animal.
49. My ears are double-pierced.
50. I think parents over-protect their children and should be restrained from micro-managing their lives.
51. Sometime after a car accident, when I got measured for a custom-made wetsuit [because I'm so short], the assistant had to do the shoulder-to-groin measurement from both shoulders because one was lower than the other.
52. Some days I would kill to be just a few inches taller. "Some days" tend to occur when I have to drive an unfamiliar car.
53. I would like to direct a film.
54. I was bit by a dog once for slapping a mosquito near his leg. Poor boy, he thought I was going to hit him.
55. I have never met a dog I'm afraid of. This includes other people's guard dogs.
56. My very first friend in California was a big pitbull mix named "Bowser".
57. I've written 4 stories so far in some way inspired by or involving my cats. 2 of them are children's picture books.
58. Most of the porn movies I've watched are really pretty dull. It's the flat noises the girl makes that bore me. She's obviously not having fun.
59. My favorite thing in gymnastics was the vault.
60. A lot of my story ideas come from my dreams.
61. I used to rollerblade in the parking lot of the local elementary school near my apartment, in the middle of the night.
62. I'm scared of big rig trucks.
63. I love wood floors.
64. Whenever I donate blood, I get an obscenely big bruise on my arm. No, no, not obscenely shaped.
65. I worry about losing or breaking my glasses.
66. I have a scar on my hand where the tip of a big Rambo-esque knife stabbed into me.
67. I've swung on a rope from one tree to another. It was fun.
68. I spin, knit, and crochet and have a lot of unfinished projects.
69. I adore maps.
70. I own a piece of amazonite that I cut and shaped and polished myself.
71. I vote.
72. I have a cellphone.
73. I know how to SCUBA dive.
74. The farthest east I've ever been is Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
75. The farthest west I've ever been is Osaka, Japan.
76. The farthest south I've ever been is Waikiki, Hawaii, USA.
77. The farthest north I've ever been is Fairbanks, Alaska, USA.
78. I've touched a dolphin.
79. There really is nothing like a wood fire.
80. Autumn is my favorite season.
81. I was almost disqualified from a spelling bee once for spelling "favorite" "favourite". But they let me go on. I thought they were stupid. Obviously I'd demonstrated command of accepted British and American spellings, hadn't I?
82. I love red meat, onion, tomatos, and potatos. Sometimes all together.
83. I yell at people who don't use their turn signals.
84. I have a scar on my forehead right between my eyes. Just a little dot, usually not noticeable with my glasses on.
85. I used to collect "how to say 'thank you'" in different languages. I think the most I got up to was around 15.
86. I studied tap, 'acrobatics', and modern dance all before I was 11.
87. I worked for a living between high school and college.
88. I adored qualitative analysis in chemistry.
89. I worked for a living and then some between college and grad school.
90. I spend a lot of time alone, by choice. I'm not alone inside my head.
91. I've cut all my hair off 3 times, so far.
92. I tan.
93. I was a water-bearer at Estrella war in Arizona, but I forget which year. Helluva lot of fun.
94. I own a Star Trek Deep Space Nine(tm) Bajoran Earring.
95. My twin brother and I were once a special effect, for the Black Box Theater troupe. This involved vast quantities of paper airplanes.
96. My name means "star".
97. My favorite color changes over the years.
98. I love the smell of books.
99. Sometimes I wear makeup, sometimes I don't.
100. I want to be me, only better, when I grow up.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


'[The fact that] conduct which is actually cruel is motivated by an excess of religious zeal does not excuse it on any theory of a constitutional guaranty of religious freedom.' 17 Am.Jur. 295, § 59.

One of the things that I really didn't expect about coming to law school is that we spend nearly as much time talking about fair play, justice, or equity, as we do about the rules of law.

Cure for Diabetes?

A Diabetes Researcher Forges Her Own Path to a Cure

Pancreatic islet cells are the things that die in your pancreas, thus giving you diabetes.

Why do they die? Because your immune system (white cells) think they're bad guys.

Why? Because they're misreading a protein.

So. Fix the misread so the white cells stop.

And...the pancreatic cells just might grow back.

Thanks, Kim!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

"Torture is Nifty"

'Cause, you know, absolute power is really kind of fun.

Memos Reveal War Crimes Warnings
Could Bush administration officials be prosecuted for 'war crimes' as a result of new measures used in the war on terror? The White House's top lawyer thought so.


No on Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General, or Supreme Court

White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales's Texas Execution Memos: How They Reflect on the President, And May Affect Gonzales's Supreme Court Chances, by John W. Dean.

From 1995 to 1997, Gonzales acted as his [Bush's -- sid] legal counsel when the then-Governor decided whether to grant clemency, or to allow the executions to go forward. What kind of counsel did Gonzales provide? According to Berlow[*], he "repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence."
Berlow writes that the memos reflect "an extraordinarily narrow notion of clemency." They appear to have excluded, for instance, factors such as "mental illness or incompetence, childhood physical or sexual abuse, remorse, rehabilitation, racial discrimination in jury selection, the competence of the legal defense, or disparities in sentences between co-defendants or among defendants convicted of similar crimes."
Take the case of Terry Washington, a thirty-three-year-old mentally retarded man with the communications skills of a seven-year-old executed in 1997. Gonzales's clemency memo, according to Berlow, did not even mention his mental retardation, or his lawyer's failure to call, at trial, for the testimony of a mental health expert on this issue. Nor did it mention that the jury never heard about Washington's history of child abuse; he was one of ten children, all of whom "were regularly beaten with whips, water hoses, extension cords, wire hangers, and fan belts."
Execution of the mentally retarded was already under a shadow at that point - a shadow has only deepened over the ensuing years. In 2002, in Atkins v. Virginia, a majority of the Supreme Court held - too late for Washington - that executing the mentally retarded is "cruel and unusual" punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.

* The memos are unpublished, but were reviewed by Berlow in The Atlantic Monthly.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Ashcroft Resigns

Ashcroft and Evans resign from Bush Cabinet

Ashcroft, in a five-page, handwritten letter to Bush, said, "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."

*blink* *blink*

It has?

Well, we know what happened the last time someone said "Mission Accomplished".

Method v. Faith

Darwinism v. "Intelligent Design"

I've blogged about this before.

Let's go over this again:

Faith: belief without evidence.
Science: the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena. Very poorly paraphrased, "skeptical belief with gathered evidence".

Both are part of a whole: humanity's endless search for understanding, of self, self's place in the universe, and purpose. But they are not the same.

What I don't understand is why anyone would want to teach religion in science class. If you believe that your religion has all the answers, and science is a puny second-best, well, then let science be taught - it's just a method for studying what we see around us. Religion is The Truth, ineffable and pure.

Why do you want your Truth to be sullied, taught on the same level, in the same room as a mere method?

'No-fly' Lists

Justice wants 'no-fly' lawsuit tossed

The problem with no-fly lists is this:

They'd be great if they were actually a list of *names*. Or great at least in the sense of maybe *working*.

But what they are is a list of *name abbreviations*. How many people do you think will abbreviate to the same thing?

I blogged about this back in June of last year, after reading this article --

No-fly list ensnares innocent travelers

Many airlines rely on name-searching software derived from "Soundex," a 120-year-old indexing system first used in the 1880 U.S. census. It was designed to help census clerks quickly index and retrieve sound-alike surnames with different spellings -- like "Rogers" and "Rodgers" or "Somers" and "Summers" -- that would be scattered in an alphabetical list.
Soundex gives each name a key using its first letter and dropping the vowels and giving number codes to similar-sounding vowels (like "S" and "C"). The system gives the same code, L350, for "Laden" and all similar-sounding names: Lydon, Lawton, and Leedham.

So, you see, all these similar names get dumped into the same bucket, and only one label can be put on the outside of that bucket. Fly, or no-fly.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

"Mercy Killing" in Iraq

When PFC Collins' Bradley fighting vehicle was disabled and he was wounded in a mortar attack in western Bagdhad, he was still moving and calling for help in broken Arabic when he died.

Seven American soldiers were killed in the attack, including Collins, military officials said. Eight others were wounded.

Rather than provide medical help to the injured man, the local citizens, who had arrived shortly after insurgents left the ambush site, treated PFC Collins as if he were "an animal struck by a car", not a human being.

They shot him, twice. Collins was 19.

Residents of the neighborhood characterized the shooting as a "mercy killing," saying they shot the wounded American "to put him out of his misery."

I am livid.

And I ask you, I ask you --

If you swap the nationalities around, so that it was American soldiers killing a 16-year-old Iraqi boy after blowing up the garbage truck he was on, are you still appalled?

Mercy and Murder at Issue in Iraq Death

There were medics. On the scene. And relatives of the wounded boy. Yet two soldiers took it upon themselves to "put him out of his misery".

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.


Tradition of Female Hamlets

Vending Machine Hamlet

Vitale coat of arms

Honest, I couldn't think of a better place to put this. I just don't want to lose it.

-- note to self

Arms: Quarterly, 1st & 4th, gules, three hedgehogs or, on a chief of the last, an eagle displayed, sable; 2nd and 3rd, argent on a terrace vert, a tower, gules, issuing therefrom a sword, proper, all between two lions combatant, or; on an inescutcheon argent, a grapevine, vert.

-- end note to self

Hedgehogs. I love that my family crest (well, one of my family crests, I guess as I have the Family: extended edition) has hedgehogs in it. That's too cool.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

New (small) rant at 3rd WWWave

Click on the image "Replies to the News". Because, yeah, baby, I'm *angry*.

The 3rd WWWave.

Fascinating question

Fascinating question:

We are clearly in the middle of one of the great periods of Christian revival in American history, the third or fourth of the “Great Awakenings” in American Protestantism. Each such period has begun with a change in the nature of worship itself, essentially a private phase, and moved onto a public phase where it engaged with the political process. These have been significant moments of progress for this country. The Second Great Awakening led in its public phase to the Abolitionist movement. What some historians consider the Third Great Awakening beginning in the 1890s led to the Social Gospel movement, settlement houses, and the beginnings of the progressive era idea of a public responsibility to ameliorate poverty.
The right question, I think, is not whether religion has an undue influence, but why it is that the current flourishing of religious faith has, for the first time ever, virtually no element of social justice? Why is its public phase so exclusively focused on issues of private and personal behavior? Is this caused by trends in the nature of religious worship itself? Is it a displacement of economic or social pressures? Will that change? What are the factors that might cause it to change?

Matthew Yglesias offers an answer:

I think the answer is that it does have a strong element of social justice.

The fact that many of these social justice initiatives are ill-designed, and that they are tacked on to various more-or-less nutty proposals that strike Mark and I as unrelated to social justice is by no means unique. For a very long time in America, a great deal of fervor went into criminalizing the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. This was believed by many at the time to be absolutely vital to the future moral integrity of the nation. The impulse in question was, meanwhile, by no means unrelated to some worthy impulses toward social reform, and to some totally unworthy impulses toward nativism and xenophobia. The religious impulse today is, of course, not precisely akin to the one that existed in previous times, but it is similar to past manifestations of the trend in that it mixes good ideas with bad approaches to worthy aims to dogmatic pursuit of certain goals that strike secular people as silly or malevolent.

Words to the wise, and the not so

"I, however, place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared."

Thomas Jefferson to William Plumer, July 21, 1816

One of many reasons, if you are registered Republican, to leave the party, and join the party of fiscal responsibility.

Analysts Call Outlook for Bush Plan Bleak. Too much deficit. Not enough revenue.

"It doesn't seem like we're going to see any tightness in U.S. budget policy anytime soon," said Rebecca Patterson, senior currency strategist at Wall Street giant JPMorgan Chase.

Under Bush's plan for spending and taxes, the deficit would be $258 billion in 2009. If anything, that may understate the size of the deficit in coming years because it does not include any additional costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon is expected to seek an additional $70 billion early next year.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Those Three Little Words I Wasn't Longing To Hear

"even stronger mandate"

Kerry concedes election to Bush

The thought of this Administration with no checks on it makes my blood run cold. And that's what we're going to have. So, wave good-bye to your kids' education, wave good-bye to your overtime pay for overtime worked, wave good-bye to college loans and clean water and toxic waste cleanup, and say hello to Big Brother, Big Business and, let's face it, the draft.


The Dominionist States of America

This country is, or maybe 100 years from now they'll say "was", I don't know, the Great American Experiment. But whatever history says about us, and I mean the e pluribus unum us, the many who came together once into one, today, I say unto you, this experiment only ever works when we stand together.

Be afraid of those three little words, "even stronger mandate". But do not back down. The other three can be stronger.


Voter Suppression In Ohio, The Blog

Global monitors find faults

The observers said they had less access to polls than in Kazakhstan, that the electronic voting had fewer fail-safes than in Venezuela, that the ballots were not so simple as in the Republic of Georgia and that no other country had such a complex national election system.

Yes! Everybody! Big round of applause for the "Help America Vote Act"! Ain't it grand?!

Foreign monitors barred from some US polling stations: OSCE observer

Their visit has raised the anger of conservative US commentators and politicians, angry that the US electoral process would be scrutinized like an election in Ukraine or Azerbaijan.

Hey, after 2000? Who could blame people for thinking we might have a titch more in common with Azerbaijan than we might like to, when it comes to electoral processes?

I prefer analogizing US to Afghanistan, myself. But what the hell, Bush can't spell either of them.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

One Excessively Warm Hat

Since I live in Boston, now, an excessively warm hat seemed appropriate.

Step 01: Purchase roving from 'unidentified sheep' somewhere in Montana. (Note, actual purchase made from owner of sheep.)
Step 02: Spin roving into medium-thick yarn of a natural white (rather a creamy shade).
Step 03: Spin other roving into slightly thicker yarn of a natural brown.
Step 04: Move to Boston.
Step 05: Begin law school.
Step 06: On a Friday, desperately need to be doing something other than studying for a couple hours. Cast on approx. 16 inches worth of stitches in the "natural white" and join on circular needles, while watching "Tomb Raider".
Step 07: Knit for 1.5-ish inches worth in 2x2 ribbing. (That's knit 2, purl 2 ribbing.)
Step 08: Switch to stockinette, and knit a simple diamond pattern in the brown on white, for a longer while than thought necessary.
Step 09: Frown at work thus far and speculate it is, in fact, too small for one's head. Plus, it's too long. Proceed undaunted.
Step 10: Switch to just the brown and begin knitting and decreasing for a couple rows.
Step 11: Switch to the white and knit/decrease a couple rows.
Step 12: Repeat for another set of brown and white rows, then, in white, start decreasing the hell out of everything until 12 or so stitches left, upon which point run yarn through remaining stitches and pull to tighten. (Switching to double-pointed needles will be required at some point.)
Step 13: Weave in ends, block, and be pleasantly surprised: hat may actually fit!

Friday, October 29, 2004

Hey, Buddy, wanna buy a warhead?

Missile stockpile defendant sues Halliburton

David Hudak's federal lawsuit, filed October 13 in Albuquerque, also claims that Halliburton, its former Jet Research Center subsidiary and another military contractor, Tennessee-based Accurate Arms Co., sold thousands more of the warheads to others in similar transactions.
The companies should have paid to have the warheads destroyed, as required by their military contracts, the lawsuit contends.
In a statement, Houston-based Halliburton said the 10 years that have passed since the sale of the warheads make the case difficult to investigate. [Emphasis added.]

O America! The clue phone is ringing! Please pick up by Nov 02, 2004. Thank you.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

What kind of curse would that be?

Howard Bashman over at How Appealing:

Questioning the proper disposition of the Red Sox curse: In response to my post from late last night titled "The curse is reversed," a reader who once served as law clerk to a Justice on the California Court of Appeal writes: "Semantic appellate law/supernatural phenomena question just for fun: Is a curse like a judgment or order that can be reversed, or more like an injunction or stay that may be lifted?"

OK, given that I'm studying law now, that was really funny. Your mileage may vary.

Holy Fucking Shit!

The Boston Red Sox have just won their first World Series since 1918. Holy jumping crawdads. Wow.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

War Crime Suit Against Pres. Bush?

Chile Group Plans Bush Welcome with War Crime Suit
The suit asks local courts to invoke international human rights treaties ratified by both countries and arrest Bush and members of his cabinet for questioning during their visit to Santiago for a summit of Asia Pacific leaders Nov. 19-21.


New Species! Homo floresiensis

Aw, now that's just cool.

'Hobbit' joins human family tree

Scientists have discovered a new and tiny species of human that lived in Indonesia at the same time our own ancestors were colonising the world.

Homo erectus may have arrived on Flores about one million years ago, evolving its tiny physique in the isolation provided by the island.
What is surprising about this is that this species must have made it to Flores by boat. Yet building craft for travel on open water is traditionally thought to have been beyond the intellectual abilities of Homo erectus.

The best moments in science are when someone says "Hm, I didn't expect that."

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


High explosives 'missing in Iraq'
US plays down loss of explosives

In spring, 2003, almost 350 tons of "key components in plastic explosives", went missing from the al-Qaqaa facility south of Bagdad, Iraq.

"Army experts say the missing explosives -- monitored by UN nuclear watchdog [IAEA] until the March 2003 invasion - could potentially be used to make a detonator for a nuclear bomb or other explosive device."

A metric ton is 1000 kg, and a kilogram is 2.2 pounds. For ease, let's just say 2000 lb. 350 of them. That's 700,000 lb.

"White House spokesman Scott McClellan said there was no risk of nuclear proliferation because of the theft."

Well, la-di-dah. That doesn't really set my mind at ease or anything, because that's still 700,000 pounds of high-explosive-key-components out there. And you know what? It's not nuclear weapons that "insurgents" are using to kill people in Iraq today, or yesterday, or all the days before that we've been doing this, it's just plain ol' bombs. So, excuse me for not feeling relieved.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Bush, Kerry, and the Catholic Church

How fascinating. Making Light notes that according to the Catholic News Service, John Kerry is not a heretic, and, according to NewDonkey*, George W. Bush is one. (From the Catholic perspective, of course.)

Some of the specific heresies, as a Protestant, and specifically Methodist, to which President Bush may be prone,

The theological doctrine propounded by Pelagius, a British monk, and condemned as heresy by the Roman Catholic Church in A.D. 416. It denied original sin and affirmed the ability of humans to be righteous by the exercise of free will.

a schismatic Christian religion in northern Africa from the 4th to the 7th century; held that only those who led a blameless life belonged in the church or could administer the sacraments.

The theological principles of Cornelis Jansen, which emphasize predestination, deny free will, and maintain that human nature is incapable of good. They were condemned as heretical by the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Original Sin, no, free will, yes. Human nature as perfectable.
  • Sanctity required for church membership - a blameless life required.
  • Predestination, yes, free will, no.

Now, Bush is identified as a Pelagianist, and maybe, a Donatist, Hussist (I couldn't get a good definition on that one) and a Jansenist as well. Some of these seem inherently contradictory as I don't see how one can have free will, and no free will, at the same time.

The implication of all three taken together is that one is predestined into one's righteousness, or in President Bush's case, his holy/political office.

[*] NewDonkey is an unofficial weblog sponsored by the Democratic Leadership Council. One must note the lack of endorsement from the Vatican. Caveat emptor.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Let's Not Talk About a Draft! It's Unpatriotic!

So, suppose the thought has crossed your mind that with the Army in Iraq, reservists in Iraq, stop-loss orders, IRR personnel called up, maybe a draft is a logical next step.

Just suppose.

Now suppose you talk about that possibility. You know, in public.

Also suppose, the Republican Party notices.

What does the RNC do?

1. Issues a press release full of facts and figures on how compulsory service would never be needed, and the administration would never support it.


2. Threaten you for talking about the possibility.

Now, guess which one occurred?

Republican Party Chairman Tells Rock The Vote to Stop Talking About a Draft

It All Adds Up

Oregon, Ohio, Nevada, Florida, Minnesota...where else? I ask you, where else?

Block the Vote (More of an overview than news. Registration may be required.):
"...a firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters, told a Nevada TV station that their supervisors systematically tore up Democratic registrations."
" 2002 the Republican Party in New Hampshire hired an Idaho company to paralyze Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts by jamming the party's phone banks."
"Whose applications get rejected? A Washington Post examination of rejected applications in Duval County [Florida -- sid] found three times as many were from Democrats, compared with Republicans. It also found a strong tilt toward rejection of blacks' registrations."

Librarian bares possible voter registration dodge (Oregon)
Company claiming affiliation with the non-partisan ‘America Votes’ group appears to represent the GOP.

Voter Registration Fraud
"The state is investigating allegations that a Portland canvasser may have destroyed completed voter registration forms. A recent report says that a man paid to register voters was instructed to only accept Republican registration forms."

Voter Fraud Charges Out West

"According to KLAS-TV, a former employee claimed hundreds, if not thousands, of Democratic registration forms were destroyed by a Sproul & Associates group called Voters Outreach of America."
"The former employee first told local Nevada reporters that he had personally witnessed his boss shredding eight to ten voter registration forms, according to Steve George, a spokesman for the Nevada Secretary of State."

In Florida, voter purges in 2000 and 2004 disenfranchise legal, lawful voters:
2001: Botched Name Purge Denied Some the Right to Vote
2004: America is Asking…About Felon Voter Purges in Florida
Report: Jeb Bush Ignored Felon List Advice

Voter registration cards found in car
"A former employee of an organization that registered voters kept hundreds of cards instead of submitting them."


In case you're of a mind to send a letter to the editor of your local paper, on this, or any other subject...

Newspaper Editors from across the nation, courtesy of ljdemocrats on LiveJournal:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Scalzi on the Pres. Debate(s)

Some days, Scalzi rules: "...feel free to call me a snob here, but I want more from a president than that he didn't soil himself live on television. If a victory can be derived simply from not embarrassing one's self, it's time to explore new metrics of victory."


That is so, so, SO true. Why do we settle, America, instead of strive? Why? What happened?

I haven't watched the debates. *Holds up hand*. I only read the transcripts, I don't have TV, and I'm not inclined to go to the local bar across from the law school just to watch. The easiest way to avoiding giving in to temptation (spending money one doesn't have, especially on 'demon drink' on a school night, thank you) is to avoid being tempted. I'll just come home and drink some tea, thank you.

(Plus, I was really expecting the local NPR station to broadcast the debates on the radio. I'm bummed they haven't.)

Friday, October 08, 2004

Ocean Policy

U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy

An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century calls for a new governance framework, more investment in marine science and a new stewardship ethic by all Americans - all within the context of an ecosystem-based management approach - to halt the decline of this nation's oceans and coasts. In total, the Commission put forward 212 recommendations (pdf, 452 Kb) for a new national ocean policy in the 610-page report. To view the executive summary of the Final Report, click here (pdf, 922 Kb).

So, I'm going to reiterate some links I posted a couple weeks ago:

Mussels Found Near North Pole Sign Of Global Warming
Natural disasters 'on the rise'
The Starving Ocean
Fishmeal catch 'hits UK seabirds'
Global fish crisis 'to worsen'

Monday, October 04, 2004

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Mock Trial

So, I was a witness this morning for mock trial teams doing advocacy competition/practice. I signed up as a volunteer to help out (first-year students are encouraged to do so as practice of our own) as a witness or bailiff.

1. It was extremely educational.
2. I found out last night I was the defendant. This ties directly into point 3, below, to wit:
3. I knew frick-all about the facts of the case.


But it was OK. Witnesses doubled as jurors (so the lawyers had someone to look at when giving their arguments). This trial practice wasn't for me in being a witness, it was for them in being an advocate.

So. Next time? I'll just assume I'm going to get a last minute 'need a witness' call and just read whatever is published for the competitors. I didn't want to do that before because I didn't want to know stuff I as witness wasn't supposed to know. Now I know I should just look at this like a play, and be ready to ad lib for my character, whatever it is.

That's the good thing about feeling like a dork: it's so motivating.

Plus, I got to listen to the judge's critique -- you can bet I'll remember it for when my turn comes in a couple years.


Politics. Passion. Pride.


Run, do not walk, to see this contemporary retelling of Sophocles' Antigone. Set in a day like today (normal language, people! no weird rhyming!), neither Creon nor Antigone will bend to one another over what they consider personally and socially fundamental beliefs.

Power. Religion. And Greek tragedy. Go see it.

Nora Theatre Company and the Boston Playwrights' Theater, 949 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA. 617 931-2000/617 491-2026 for tickets. Only two more days at this location.

If you get a chance to see this adaptation, by Richard McElvain, take it. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


I'm watching a webcast with no sound, so I'm not sure, but I think SpaceShipOne is in the air right now.

(It'll spend an hour climbing to altitude, de-couple, fire rockets to boost into space -- 62+ miles/100 km above the Earth -- and glide back home. Alas, I will be in Contracts class during that time.)

(10:16 a.m. EST)

The followup flight is currently scheduled for early next week (must be within 14 days to be eligible for the prize).

This will be the second time SS1 has hit space, the first was in June of this year.

(edited 3:05 p.m. EST) SS1 did it! Now, next week's flight!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Voting rights, anyone?

Blackwell Rulings Rile Voting Advocates (PDF) -- Secretary of State Blackwell says voter registrations must follow card-stock rule(s), and precinct boards must strictly interpret the rules involving provisional ballots.

Dems Sue to Block Poll Rule -- this is on the provisional ballots, not the card-stock issue.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Former Auschwitz Residents Sue Bush Family

How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power

God knows, nothing that happened "back then" affects today or is in any way important, which is why we're spending all this time in Election 2004 talking about our candidates' service, or lack thereof, in Vietnam.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Week Five of Law School

Going Strong! Quiz. Torts. It was good. Made me think. Made me read closely. (Excuse me, apparently, I'm having a Hemingway-esque writing style moment. Can Sidra confine herself to no more than three words per sentence for an entire post? Let's observe.)

Made me go home and look it up.

(Ah, that would be 'no'. Hemingway, it seems, has left the building. No doubt to go whale-watching.)

The really fun bit was the conversation I had with a fellow student about transferred intent before the quiz that nearly made us late. Also, looked that up, and, of course, when the heat's not on, I find precisely the quote I wanted at the time, that when a defendant "intends any one of the five*, his intent will be 'transferred' to make him liable for any of the five, provided the harm is direct and immediate." What my fellow student had been focusing on was that many of our 'hypothetical' cases considered in class involved something like meaning to hurt (or, say, frighten) one person and actually hurting another by mistake, and I hadn't been looking so much at the transferring between people as just the concept of 'transferring' intent in general so that you can find someone liable for the result of their action, whether it's a result they intended to create or not.

So we had a kind of disconnect in our language when we tried to talk about intent.

Which was fun. To me, at least.

Anyway. Week Five. Good so far.

[*] Assault, battery, false imprisonment, trespass to land, trespass to chattels. These are all very old 'torts', or wrongdoings, for which a person may sue in a civil court for damages.

Winning the Oil Endgame

U.S. Can Eliminate Oil Use in a Few Decades

Read the article. It's sensible.

Can we maybe do this, instead of invading countries based on what natural resources we'll then have control over? Could we?

"For the first time, our report adds up the new ways to provide all the services now obtained from oil, but without using oil -- which will save us $70 billion a year," concluded Lovins. "Forging the tools to get our nation off oil forever is the key to revitalizing industry and farming."

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Picture of a Smug Kitchen Witch

Wanna know why? Of course you do! Because of the following: I own the China Moon Cookbook (run, do not walk, to buy this cookbook).

Had it for years, after some friends visited the restaurant back in the early/mid-90's and got it for me.

(And this connects to the present in what way, aside from the general and inevitable progression of time? I'm so glad you asked! Why, I'll tell you.)

I've been out of a couple things for most of this year.

So, I made curry powder yesterday morning. A double batch. And Chinese 10-Spice (mandatory if you want strange-flavor eggplant, which I think I just might). And Szechuan Peppercorn Salt.

While I was at it, I should've made garam masala, but I didn't think about until I'd already used the grinder for coffee again, because that's in another cookbook (my encylopedia of Asian cooking -- no, I'm sure it's called something else, but that's what it *is*).

What I *do* want, desperately, is a separate grinder for spices and for coffee. Of course, I only want such desperately when I'm mixing spices in large enough batches to not want to use my mortar and pestle, and have been drinking (decaf) coffee recently. This is not all that common of an occurance.

Yes, my coffee today has some interesting undertones to the flavor...why do you ask?

I need to get a new candy thermometer before mixing up new batches of hot oils, and I started a brand-new sourdough starter.

So, this weekend marks my first month here in Boston. (Looks at spices. Looks window at blue, blue sunny sky.) Not too bad. Not too bad at all.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Poor Selling Their Kidneys in Nepal

Nepal villagers sell kidneys to beat grinding poverty

One Simple Question

The World's Shortest Blog has One Question to ask.

go read it
Copied straight from The Boston Globe:

CYA Memo

18 August 1973
Memo to file
Subject: CYA
1. Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush. I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job. Harris gave me a message today from Grp regarding Bush's OETR and Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it. Bush wasn't here during rating period and I don't have any feedback from 187th in Alabama. I will not rate. Austin is not happy either.
2. Harris took the call from Grp today. I'll backdate but won't rate. Harris agrees.

What's "Grp"?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Abortion and "Reproductive Rights"

Someone somewhere else mentioned their discomfort with the term "reproductive rights", and I realized that we've actually studied something recently in Torts class that I find relevant to an explanation of the term.

When studying the tort of 'battery' (Law school! Now in week three!), we learned that its elements are

intent to touch and intent to cause harm or offense with that touching*;
actual touch, and harm or offense resulting from that touch.

[*] Different jurisdictions may rely just on the intent to touch. This is a 'strict liability' approach. You broke it, you buy it, regardless of what you meant to do.

In the case Cohen v. Smith (648 N.E.2d 329) we learned that bodily harm doesn't have to be caused by this touching. Offense to a reasonable sense of personal dignity works too.

That case also told us that the right to accept or refuse medical care, to determine what shall be done with one's own body, is sacrosanct. (In Cohen, a woman's religious beliefs imposed certain requirements - that the hospital agreed to - on her medical care. The hospital then ignored those requirements.)

The problem is, with abortion, until we have external reproductive systems, a pregnancy always carries with it the possibility of someone having to make an either/or decision:

what's best for the mother?
what's best for the fetus?

And how, really, can I get away with being that someone, telling you what choice to make?

A person's right to choose the nature of or course of their medical care does not go away just because they have a potential person growing inside them. This is why we call them reproductive "rights".

It is your right to make decisions about your medical care.

"Reproductive rights" are not about the right to end a potential person. They're about the right to control what other people do to your body. The right to give or withhold consent as your personal dignity, religious beliefs, morality, etc., may require.

If you are a Jehovah's Witness and cannot accept blood transfusions, that's your decision to make, about your medical care.

If you are a pregnant woman with a heart condition, and your doctor tells you it could kill you to try to carry a fetus to term, it could kill you to give birth, it could kill you even with a C-section, you are trapped with the most hideous decision in the world.

But it is still yours to make.

Because I don't have the right to tell you what medical treatment to accept or deny.

If I take away from you the right to determine what happens to your body when you're pregnant, then what comes next?

What about...if you might become pregnant? Isn't that a terribly important time, too? Your health affects the health of any fetus you might carry. So, to be safe, why doesn't the state just dictate to all menstruating women as well as all pregnant women? All menstruating and pregnant women are not allowed to smoke. Because, it's damaging to a fetus, you know. All menstruating and pregnant women are not allowed to drink. Or eat fatty foods. Or have too much salt. Or work in high-pressure jobs - got to watch that blood pressure! Or watch scary movies - mustn't overstrain your nerves!

Or work at all?

Bam. We've just gone back to the Victorian era.

That was one hell of a slippery slope, wasn't it? Let's not slide down it.

"Reproductive rights" are a part and parcel of your right to control the course of your medical care, pregnant or not.

How Sure Are You...Dick?

Cheney Threatens US With Another Terrorist Attack Unless Vote Bush

That's what the headline should say, anyway.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

cute baby-yarn beret

I did a beret based on the patterns in Anna Zilboorg's 45 Fine and Fanciful Hats To Knit, in baby yarn, in that pale yellow and pale green you basically only find in baby yarn, you know? Same green yarn as the little raglan sweater I've been avoiding:

The beret was knit on 4.0 mm circular needles and double pointed needles.

Very cheerful looking.

The baby blue cotton tank (apparently, I have a Thing of some sort about baby yarn, or baby yarn colors) is still progressing slowly but surely.

The bright yellow socks - ripped apart. Completely unsatisfactory. Though I may do some colorwork with that yellow yarn in socks for the future, I just don't think it's workable as the main yarn for a sock.

Hey, cool!

I own an 1888 Seated Liberty dime!

How neat!

Isn't it fun, the things you find when you unpack?

Friday, September 03, 2004

Power Corrupts

Don't Like the Poverty Stats? Redefine Poverty!

Last week, the Census Bureau released statistics showing that for the first time in years, poverty had increased for three straight years, while the number of Americans without health care increased to a record level.[1] But instead of changing its economic and health care policies, the Bush administration today is announcing plans to change the way the statistics are compiled. The move is just the latest in a series of actions by the White House to doctor or eliminate longstanding and nonpartisan economic data collection methods.

Not the first time, either.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Church of Bush

Worth a full read: The Church of Bush

Once I interviewed a Freeper who told me he first became a committed conservative after discovering the Federalist Papers. "I absolutely devoured them, recognizing, my God, these things were written hundreds of years ago and they still stand up as some of the most intense political philosophy ever written."
I happen to agree, so I asked him—after he insisted Bush couldn't have been lying when he claimed to have witnessed the first plane hit the World Trade Center live on TV, after he said the orders to torture in Iraq couldn't have possibly come from the top, all because George Bush is too fundamentally decent to lie—what he thinks of the Federalists' most famous message: that the genius of the Constitution they were defending was that you needn't base your faith in the country on the fundamental decency of an individual, because no one can be trusted to be fundamentally decent, which was why the Constitution established a government of laws, not personalities. [emphasis added -- sid]
"If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary . . . "
Conservatives see something angelic in George Bush. That's why they excuse, repress, and rationalize away so much.

I sincerely hope that we can walk away from this diefication of the president, because if not, we've severely hampered the natural balance of power that is fundamental to the United States.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

President Does It Again

Bush Hails His Actions On Intelligence

There goes Bush, again, signing executive orders when no one is paying attention.

Of course, now that I'm peeved he's sliding stuff past the media (again), I'd like to draw something *else* out, to wit:

"All of them [the orders Bush signed -- sid] are essential to America's security as we wage the war on terror," Bush, speaking in his weekly radio address, said of the orders.

War. On. Terror.

War on fear. War on despair. War on horror.

Not war on al-Qaeda, or some group of people, or a country. Not even war on a system or ideology, or illness (war on poverty, war on racism, polio). But terror.

Fear. War. On fear.

Does this make any sense, anywhere, to anyone?

RNC Attendees to Visit Ellis Island

RNC Attendees to Visit Ellis Island

How interesting.

If you're of Asian descent, or, say, some shade other than *white*, your ancestors probably didn't come through Ellis Island.

So, what does this field trip say about the ethnic and racial diversity of the RNC?

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Baby's First Week at Law School

It's been good. Which class we talk about what in is kind of blurring together, since many of the cases we chew over overlap their subject matter from one class to another. Like, maybe we talk about a contract in Civil Procedure - so we can talk about the *procedure* - as well as a contract in, you guessed it, Contracts.

I can see it's *very* easy for my fellows to get bogged down in the details of the case, as opposed to what the case tells us about the system. I probably only think I'm not suffering from that as greatly as everyone else. (Hopefully, my arrogance will tip me on my ass quickly and I can get over myself without too much damage.)

Some of the stuff we're reading right now dates back to the 1800's, so that we're seeing evolution of thought on property, contractual obligations, jurisdiction, and what harm really means (for my classes Property, Contracts, Civil Procedure, and Torts - all fascinating, btw). Because it changes with time.

I mentioned we touched on contractual obligations in both Contracts and Civil Procedure. Well, what we (the American system) inherited from the British system was a very formal approach with little room for intent.

Did you sign the contract? Is that your mark? Does it say you will perform X? Then you must perform X. Even if you *meant* at the time to sign a document that said Y - which was very similar to X, but not X - still, you promised X. Tough. Too bad for you.

But, things evolve, and today, there is some room in the rule (which is still the formal approach) for misrepresentation, or the inability to have a "meeting of minds" - in short, for trying to determine if an "honest mistake" has occurred.

Similarly, just in the past 40 years, there's been a shift in permitting lawsuits for emotional distress, even when no physical harm has resulted from some party's actions. Used to not be the case. Now, battery means to touch someone with intent to cause harm or offense, and to actually cause harm or offense, and the phrase emotional distress has some - certainly still fuzzy - meaning in a courtroom.

Baby's First Week: pretty good.