Oh happy day

Tex. Penal Code § 15.02 (2005)
§ 15.02. Criminal Conspiracy

(a) A person commits criminal conspiracy if, with intent that a felony be committed:

(1) he agrees with one or more persons that they or one or more of them
engage in conduct that would constitute the offense; and

(2) he or one or more of them performs an overt act in pursuance of the

(b) An agreement constituting a conspiracy may be inferred from acts of the parties.

(c) It is no defense to prosecution for criminal conspiracy that:

(1) one or more of the coconspirators is not criminally responsible for
the object offense;

(2) one or more of the coconspirators has been acquitted, so long as
two or more coconspirators have not been acquitted;

(3) one or more of the coconspirators has not been prosecuted or
convicted, has been convicted of a different offense, or is immune from

(4) the actor belongs to a class of persons that by definition of the
object offense is legally incapable of committing the object offense in
an individual capacity; or

(5) the object offense was actually committed.

(d) An offense under this section is one category lower than the most serious felony that is the object of the conspiracy, and if the most serious felony that is the object of the conspiracy is a state jail felony, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.




Doubleheader effect?

If anyone has a bunch of free time or an easily sortable database of MLB teams game-by-game results over a whole bunch of years, you could really help me out. I'd like to test a principle which the Yankees' television announcers repeatedly asserted on Monday, and which was true for the instantiation which they were applying it to. The principle was that "You usually split a doubleheader," and the instance of it was the Red Sox splitting their doubleheader with the Blue Jays today. While the word used was "usually", taking that to mean that doubleheaders are split more than half the time is a really boring claim, not one that's useful for predictions, and not the one the Yankees announcers were making. Their claim was that the Yankees were gaining something by the Red Sox game being rained-out on Monday, forcing the Red Sox into a doubleheader today.

They are therefore making the interesting claim that a game being doubleheader changes a teams likely performance compared to its likelihood of winning two games on consecutive days against the same opponent. While there are really quick and dirty tests of this principle I can do, like counting the number of splits
this year (11), and the number of non-splits (7), this doesn't really tell me much. Plus in 2004 it was 17 splits and 22 non-splits.

Rather, the test I'd like to do is:
1) go back to seasons where doubleheaders were far more prevalent
2) pick a somewhat random sample of teams
3) compare the samples of teams' winning percentage in non-doubleheader games on consecutive days against the same opponent with their doubleheader winning percentage, and see if the doubleheader winning percentage is closer to .500 then their end of season percentage.

This test really needs to be done during seasons when doubleheaders were far more prevalent than today to be meaningful. For instance, in this season, most teams' winning percentage for doubleheaders is going to be .000, .500, 1.000, or indeterminate, because most teams played one or no doubleheaders. In bygone days however, that was not the case. Also, the proper comparison might be end-of-season winning percentage to double-header winning percentage instead, or some other test that hasn't occurred to me. Thoughts?


So how does this explain Giuliani?

Interesting article by Fred Kaplan on Democrat's woes (given how liberal and Democratic New York is) in the New York mayoral race. I'm agnostic on the accuracy of Kaplan's low assessment of Ferrer's competence, but everything else he says is right on.





The post below, "A personal communiqué" has a long colloquy in comments between myself and one [Update] three other commenter[s]. I'm noting it up here in case anyone else wants to jump in on the argument.

Today's (9/26/05) NY Times crossword wasn't very interesting, even by Monday standards. Thanks a lot, Ethan Cooper. I may add crossword puzzle reviews to my blog niches, along with the normal Randy Cohen stuff, West Wing blogging (I'll get to that tomorrow) and whatever else it is I do.


The most important story you will read today

It's not that the use of animals (horses, dogs, and elephants being some of the most obvious examples) for military purposes is anything new. And apparently earlier uses of dolphins in Vietnam and the first Gulf War have come to light. Nevertheless, the story Ezra Klein found in the Guardian is unbelievable. Here's the best part of the article, but the whole thing is worth reading:
Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.
Dolphins have been trained in attack-and-kill missions since the Cold War. The US Atlantic bottlenose dolphins have apparently been taught to shoot terrorists attacking military vessels.
One intrepid blog reporter suggests that these dolphins have defected to join al-Qaeda, and has a photo to back it up.

More information on military use of dolphins can be found here, with many, many links at the bottom.


Kala-azar sounds so made up

I have to confess: The Ethicist's answer to the first question he received this week is really good. In a tricky question about the ethics of killing a dog to prevent the spread of disease to other dogs and humans, he lays out something that one could reasonably view as an argument and supports his conclusion, and he contacts Peter Singer to get a partially dissenting view. Besides noting that Cohen's conclusion that it's permissible to kill the dog but important to consider alternative options first is correct, I have three comments.
One is that I've previously suggested (via
post title) that Singer would have relevant things to say about one of Cohen's column's. Two is that a quick google reveals that Cohen realized this far before I did, and included a Peter Singer piece in book which was primarily a compilation of Cohen columns. Three is just to note that me being pleased that Cohen contacted Singer should not be construed as me endorsing all (or any particular) positions which Peter Singer has taken, but rather being happy about someone who thinks about ethics professionally being contacted for a column.

As to question two, I reject the premise of the question, in particular the word "instead."




A little help

If I'm planning on watching the Television series Firefly at some point, how important to my enjoyment of it is whether I see it before or after Serenity? One might wonder how anyone know the answer to this without having seen Serenity, which has yet to be screened besides for a few sneak previews. I don't know the answer to that either. Also, I'm presumably seeing Serenity next weekend unless I discover that it's cruical to my enjoyment of Firefly not to do so. Oh, and I am (like all right thinking people) a Joss Whedon fan.




Accidentally untitled

The 2005 edition of New York Magazine's "How Much Do People Make?" article has been released, and it is, as always, a good read. The figures are cash only, not including fringe benefits of transport, housing, etc. That said, here a few of my favorites, with commentary when I have some:

New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz: $90,000 (WD's note: they couldn't find out how much Randy Cohen makes?)

Kim's Video Clerk David Schmidt: $8,736 (28 hours per week at $6/hour)

Astor Place subway station street musician George M.: $16,800

Malcolm Gladwell
: $1.5 million (book advance, plus $250,000 New Yorker salary and $30,000 per speaking engagement) (WD's note: it's unclear to me why they don't just add these up, unless they can't find out how many speaking engagements he has had)

ESL Investments Hedge Fund manager Edward Lampert: $1.02 billion

McKinsey & Co. consultant Chelsea Clinton: $120,000 (WD's note: reliable sources tell me this is wrong, at least to the degree that it excludes her bonus)

Parking-violation judge Laura Held: $126,072 (WD's note: I can't decide if this surprisingly high, or compared with a first year law firm associates salary, surprisingly low)

First-year associate at Weil, Gotshal, Manges William Joshua Brant: $125,000 (WD's note: this certainly excludes any bonus, though as I don't know Mr. Brant, I can't confirm that he received a bonus)

The contrast between Bloomberg's chief of staff and campaign manager is also interesting. There are many more interesting ones, including the President of my school, a cocaine dealer, and a Princeton Review SAT tutor whose salary seems incommensurately high compared with what I was making when I taught the LSAT for Kaplan.




On Reid on Roberts

This post at the Blue Mass Group, which criticizes Harry Reid's announced "No" vote on John Roberts and proposing a counter strategy of voting yes while explaining why John Roberts is acceptable in the terms of a warning for what Bush can't do for the next courl slot is really off base. It fails to explain what benefits will come to the Democrats by providing such an explanation, and it's hard to figure out what the answer could be. The chances of Bush listening are slim to none, with slim having just left town. It's not clear how stating why Roberts is acceptable will lead to Democratic electoral victories It would probably lead to a couple of articles cheering the Democrats for overcoming their partisan instincts, but such articles will be wrong, and will fade.

Here's the thing: it's oft repeated that with Republican political victories, it must be accepted that Republican judges will be appointed. Practically, that's true, the Democrats can't stop it. But there's a perfectly good reason to not vote for them: liberal jurisprudential theories (Ronald Dworkin, Ely, Sunstein, or whomever else one might follow) are correct (Democratic Senators presumably believe), and conservative jurisprudential theories are wrong. Also, it reinforces the anti-democratic precedent that it's fine to vote for Judges whom you know little to nothing about it.

I therefore sign on to the strategy that's making the rounds, namely that all the Democrats should abstain. This can highlight the process problems, allow Democrats to note that they believe there is an objectively correct way to practice the art of judging and that Roberts is likely to disagree with what they see as objectively correct, while noting that no better candidate is likely to come from Bush and he therefore doesn't require a "No" vote.


Rounding up and redirecting

- On his site, Tyler tells us that the Scorsese on Dylan American Masters episode is astonishingly good. In New York it's airing next Monday and Tuesday, you can check when it'll air in your area here.

- Mark Kleiman, has, as frequently happens, posted a lot of thought-provoking entries lately. In case you're not already reading him, some high points: Particularly good is the one on project management failures re: both Katrina and the Iraqi reconstruction. The post includes this gem: "More broadly, this sort of result is the natural outgrowth of a political-journalistic culture that uses 'wonk' as a pejorative. Only a wonk would care about the difference between corporate debarment and individual debarment, or about the question of how to design a contracting system for a corrupt environment." You'll probably need some context to make sense of the examples there (I know I did), so read the
whole thing. I also really like the Sebastian Mallaby piece which he quotes just above that. Finally, check out this post to learn that George W. Bush isn't just a bad wizard.

-Both of the Coney Island artist lineups for this concert look amazing, day one especially. Staten Island isn't too bad either.


Auto Shares?! They published that?

My lack of Ethicist response posts does not mean that I think his columns have improved, and it's high time I got back to talking about what's wrong with them. I don't even accept that the first question he answered this week counts as ethical dilemma, it's just a matter of doing whatever makes life easier. That's not to say that no parent-child problems are ethical problems, but this one isn't. If a parent were to insist, over their child's (or children's) objections, on always listening to exactly what they want, they might be asking for family problems they don't need, but it's hard to see how they're doing something wrong. Except maybe on a strict utilitarian perspective, and even then it's not clear to me that you want to count children's preferences in the same way as everyone else's.

The second question (which is of course correctly answered) could have an interesting explanation, but none is provided. This may be due to space constraints, admittedly. One way to solve that would be to put an extended version of the column online, though I'm admittedly unsure what reason the Times would have to do that as long as the Sunday Magazine is not part of TimesSelect, and I'm happy it's not a part of it.

Also, it's probably as much a feature of the blog for me to mention being behind in my Ethicist posts as it is for me to write them.




Staple crops

The West Wing premieres on Sunday, but until then I can't post my weekly thoughts on it. I will say that I'm looking forward to an escape to a fictional political realm where no Senator worries about how Hurricane Katrina might prevent the estate tax repeal and responds to that worry by scouring the dead for a victim whose family had to pay the estate tax; one where the people who work at Treasury do so because they understand fiscal and/or monetary policy, not just because the President feels like they're loyal to him. In that world members in good standing of the President's party (with the same last name as the lame duck West Wing Pres.) don't need to note that in the event of a financial crisis the people in charge would have less than a clue about what to do, because in that world the case is otherwise. Another (the other, probably) recurring, staple feature will return very early Wednesday, albeit in a cursory fashion.

On a different note, as of this writing, the Yankees are a half game back from both the Red Sox and Indians. The last twelve games for the Yankees (the other two only have eleven) are going to be mighty interesting.





A nominative use of a trademark is one where the trademark is being used by a non-trademark holder, not to imply any endorsement or sponsorship of a person, product, or service by the trademark holder, nor to misleadingly pass off their product as one belonging to the trademark holder, but rather simply to refer to something in the post convenient way. In explaining why Playboy can not prevent nominative uses of their trademarks, Circuit Judge Nelson quoted (link is to a .pdf) the District court judge (Robert J. Bryan?) as providing the following example of the alternatives open to Terri Welles to describing herself as the 1981 Playmate of the Year:
[T]here is no other way that Ms. Welles can identify or describe herself and her services without venturing into absurd descriptive phrases. To describe herself as the "nude model selected by Mr. Hefner's magazine as its number-one prototypical woman for the year 1981" would be impractical as well as ineffectual in identifying Terri Welles to the public.


Politics as Poker

David Mamet writes about poker strategy and uses it as an extended metaphor to illustrate what he sees as poor political choices by the Democratic party. I'm wavering as to whether or not the metaphor makes sense as applied or not, but it's fun to read, even if it might not end up giving any advice more solid then "courage is good." Another way to put this is that I don't know if the article is more closely equivalent to House of Games (brilliantly written, character's motivations all make sense and the plot comes together beautifully);
Spanish Prisoner (very well written, some of the characters behave in inexplicable ways and I can't decide whether or not the resolution makes any sense); or Spartan (interestingly written, essentially nonsensical).

Either way, some choice bits:
The military axiom is "he who imposes the terms of the battle imposes the terms of the peace." The gambling equivalent is: "Don't call unless you could raise"; that is, to merely match one's opponent's bet is effective only if it makes the opponent question the caller's motives. And that can only occur if the caller has acted aggressively enough in the past to cause his opponents to wonder if the mere call is a ruse de guerre.


For example, take a player who has never acted with initiative — he has never raised, merely called. Now, at the end of the evening, he is dealt a royal flush. The hand, per se, is unbeatable, but the passive player has never acted aggressively; his current bet (on the sure thing) will signal to the other players that his hand is unbeatable, and they will fold.


The Republicans, like the perpetual raiser at the poker table, became increasingly bold as the Democrats signaled their absolute reluctance to seize the initiative.


Control of the initiative is control of the battle. In the alley, at the poker table or in politics. One must raise. The American public chose Bush over Kerry in 2004. How, the undecided electorate rightly wondered, could one believe that Kerry would stand up for America when he could not stand up to Bush? A possible response to the Swift boat veterans would have been: "I served. He didn't. I didn't bring up the subject, but, if all George Bush has to show for his time in the Guard is a scrap of paper with some doodling on it, I say the man was a deserter."

This would have been a raise. Here the initiative has been seized, and the opponent must now fume and bluster and scream unfair. In combat, in politics, in poker, there is no certainty; there is only likelihood, and the likelihood is that aggression will prevail.


The Democrats are anteing away their time at the table. They may be bold and risk defeat, or be passive and ensure it.
Just to note one possible problem with the metaphor, it's not clear that it applies in precisely the same way to heads-up poker.




An exercise in futility

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Lolita, I present the first ever "Provisionally Titled Poll Which I Don't Expect Anyone to Answer." All responses are much appreciated. If for some reason the poll doesn't include the response that most suits you, answering in comments is acceptable (barely).

Immediate Update: blogger cannot handle javascript polls, or at least I don't know how to cause blogger to do that. I therefore present the poll textually, and if anyone knows how to put a real poll in a blogger hosted blog, please enlighten me. The poll follows: Compared to the original, the Annotated Lolita is...

1) Better
2) Much better
3) Incomparably better





A lot of the people who are going to care about this probably saw it via their e-mail before they'll ever read it here, but this article from the New York Post's Page Six is about the allegations of a girl who went to elementary, middle and high school with me against a reality tv-star who I'm not sure if I should have heard of, Rocco DiSpirito. Use bugmenot to read it if you don't have a password. I would think she's going to need a couple more Page Six appearance's before its worthwhile to go around saying "I knew her when..." Wait, I just did that. Damn. In that case, I bask in her dimly and very indirectly received semi-pseudo-fame.




C for Constitution

I don't have anything particularly new to say about the various Katrina response efforts, nor have I invested much time in analyzing every (or even most) word(s) said in the Roberts confirmation, I'm pretty much silent on the two issues dominating the public political discourse. Similarly, I'm embarrassingly under-informed about New York City politics, so I don't have any comments about the election results except to note that Christopher X. Brodeur, who I previously noted here, got 4% of the vote. Also, I'm hoping this site might help with my lack of local politics knowledge. Having now reviewed the things I won't be talking about, here's what I am:

I picked up two books on Sunday, and while I've only finished one, I recommend both. The unfinished one is Akhil Amar's America's Constitution: A Biography, which has taught me quite a bit in just the first twenty pages. Especially interesting in this early section is the comparison of the restrictions on who could be involved in (vote for a delegate or be a delegate) in the Constitutional ratifying conventions compared with the much stricter restrictions which were in place for standard elections.

The other is Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta. It's the collection of the full run of the comic book, and prevents an interesting story about, among other things an anarchist fighting the totalitarian government in post nuclear war England. That's just the barest bones of a synopsis, there's far more to it.




Danger Will Robinson! Danger!

I have conflicting inconsistent desires as far as this blog goes. On the one hand, I want far, far more readers than I have (Hint: If you just read that sentence, that makes you about one of twenty people in the world to have done so, depending on what time you read it at.). On the other, I just found in my referrals someone who had found the site by googling "Washerdreyer." This is fairly common. However, their IP address is registered to a law firm I interviewed with last week. I've looked back through e-mails I've sent to them, and none of them include the term "washerdreyer" or any link to this blog. This leaves me quite curious as to how someone there ended up searching for that term. It's not that there's anything (that I think) is so bad on this site, but I never know what a potential employer would think. I guess I'll note that I've never said anything about any job I've worked at on this blog.

Also, my use of the term googling, and the widespread use of that term, could eventually cause trademark trouble if googling becomes a generic term for using a search engine. Or so my reading of trademark law would imply.


Two Times thoughts

First, an annoying and possibly revealing error in today's science Times. I'm not sure if it is actually revealing or what is being revealed, but the following paragraph from the article about how conservatives really like the film March of the Penguins got my goat: "[T]he only allusion to evolution in "March of the Penguins" is a line near the beginning, intoned in the English-language version by the narrator, Morgan Freeman: "For millions of years they have made their home on the darkest, driest, windiest and coldest continent on earth. And they've done so pretty much alone.""
Mentioning the world being old is simply not an allusion to evolution, it's a mention of a piece of scientific knowledge that is inconsistent with a completely literal reading of the Bible. If even Science Times' writers are using 'evolution' as shorthand for any knowledge that people who think the Bible is literally true don't like, we're going to need a lot more than the
Daily Show's "Evolution, Shmevolution" week to set things right.

Second, I know the Times, to much gnashing of blogospheric teeth, announced their plans to put the Op-Ed writers behind a pay wall months ago. But today's edition included an announcement that they're actually going ahead with putting them and a bunch of good content behind said pay wall in six days, and (by omission) that the pay subscription won't include the one thing which may have motivated me to get it: a crossword subscription. Apparently that will still require its own fee.


Roberts Hearing

Cross-posted and amended for comprehensibility from comments:

Yes, [asking about what Roberts thought about interning people solely on the basis of their race, ethnicity, or nation of origin; not on for instance their nation of origin plus being at war with that nation] is a very stupid thing to ask.
I like Ted Kennedy better during times when I'm not listening to him speak.
I'd like to see Roberts asked who his favorite character in Inherit the Wind is.
[In response to another commenter noting that since Robert's will answer many of the questions to which a full and accurate answer would be very interesting with, "That may come before the court," and suggesting that there questions should be asked for which that would, in itself, be an interesting answer.]I'm not sure on what issues it would be particularly revealing that he thinks it might come before the court. Maybe whether some circuitous proposals invloving mandatory movement of Supeme Court Justices to Senior Justice status after 18 years violate the Article III requirement of life tenure, since he'd then be predicting that it might get proposed in and pass Congress...that's probably far too specific.

C-SPAN is appealingly amateurish.


A personal communiqué


If you're reading this, and I know you aren't because of your obstinate refusal to read my excellent blog, please tell Dershowitz that brutally insulting Rehnquist, not for his poor judicial reasoning (which is mentioned in only an off-hand, broad-brush way) but for Stanford being a racist and anti-Semitic institution in the 40's and 50's, and for Rehnquist taking part in this institution; and to make these points far less than twelve hours after Rehnquist's death is really inappropriate and just plain wrong. The truth of a statement is not always a sufficient justification for saying it (scroll down to the section beginning with "confusing" in bold at the link). If the justification is a desire to get a portrait of Rehnquist out with all of the accurate blemishes in place, I don't see any reason why making the same statements two weeks or a month from now wouldn't have the same effect. Perhaps, there would be fewer readers, but maximizing readers can't be the only important value.
Also, Sean Hannity and his fans being dicks who cause a net detraction from the public discourse and the amount of true information in circulation has nothing to do with Rehnquist being good or bad.
Finally, the criticism that he enforced access to voting rules in a way that is beneficial to Republicans (not as a judge, but as a political operative) is essentially criticizing him for being a Republican. Now many, many Republicans are deserving of criticism, but it's not usually simply for being a member of that party.




Everything in this post is meant sincerely, including the title

In most debates about whether President Bush or other members of his Administration were mistaken or correct in a particular action or inaction, the premise is granted that the person arguing doesn't have access to the same (secret, classified, or just hard to access) information as the President and other members of government. This normally seems right, a large quantity of information (and the confidence with which such information should be believed) about the capabilities of foreign nations is presumed to be available to the President but not to you or me.

The President has now disclaimed this argumentative advantage, and wants all of his decisions to be evaluated based upon the publicly available information at the time. Or at least, that's how I read this story in which Pres. Bush explains his previous statement that no one predicted the failure of the levees.

Now, when someone says that based upon the best intelligence at the time it was reasonable to think that Iraq had nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, I don't need to worry about what the CIA or the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research were saying at the time. Instead, I can check what CNN, ABC, or the New York Times were saying, and be confident that the quality of my information is as good as the President's.


A day in the life

Having just walked by Parker Posey and Jimmy Fallon dancing on top of a taxi cab while attached to a wire harness and drinking Pepsi, I'm in a contemplative mood.

I. Top 5 Parker Posey movies (which I have seen. Exclusion means either I haven't seen it, it fails on the merits, or wasn't included for some idiosyncratic reason.):
1.Best in Show Notes: This film is better than Waiting for Guffman.
2.The Anniversary Party Notes: I haven't seen this since I saw it in theatres, but I quite liked it then.
3. Waiting for Guffman
4. House of Yes
5. Kicking and Screaming Notes: If I could remember what role she played in this, or much of the movie besides a vague positive feeling towards it, I might place it higher.

Explanatory note: Dazed and Confused is a better movie than most, and likely all, of these. But it's an ensemble film which I can't really conceptualize as a Parker Posey film (she plays the girl with the infamous, "Lick me, all of you" line). One might quibble that all of the above are ensemble films. One would then be a jerk. I also like Party Girl.

II. Top Five Jimmy Fallon Films
Jimmy Fallon has made at most five feature films, and I don't really make it a habit to see them. His performance as the replacement manager in Almost Famous is interestingly different from his TV work that I have seen.

III. What legal powers does a filming permit give to its holders?
I ask because said holders ordered me to, among other things, stop walking, walk quickly, and avert my eyes from the direction where the filming was taking place. In doing so, were they just relying on the human instinct to defer to authoritative proclamations, or if I had said "no" were there steps they could have taken to encourage me. Maybe they could get the police to escort me off of the street they were filming? If I had been in the mood to stand on a particular spot on the McDougal Street (btw. 3rd and Bleeker) sidewalk today, and to look in a particular direction, for an hour or more, what remedy does their filming permit give them against me? Certainly they can direct social ire at me, but are they able to do any more? I tried to find a copy of the shooting permit online, but can only find the permit application.

IV. Top Five Pepsi Commercials
I have better things to do with my time than list these. Not that it has anything to do with why there isn't a list, but I also can't find a convenient online archive of Pepsi ads, only the current ones are available.

Update 2/14/06: People seem to keep finding this post by searching for things like "Jimmy Fallon" and "Pepsi." There are a surprising number of you interested in this ad, so here's the copy of it I was able to find.




Screwed both ways

Yglesias at Tapped, catches an absurd rhetorical maneuver by Byron York at National Review. Anyone who has paid any attention to right-wing pundits, magazinse, and blogs (National Review and its writers fall under all of those categories) discussing Senate confirmation of Bush appointees must have seen the claim made that very wide discretion should be given to the President's choices, and that opposition should only be considered...I'm not even sure under what circumstances National Review would agree that a Bush appointee should be opposed. So opposition is tarred as obstruction, keeping the Senate from performing its proper function.

But now National Review reveals that if the appointee turns out to be completely unqualified and incompetent (see Michael Brown. Better yet, don't.), the criticism should be directed at the Democratic Senators who didn't obstruct the confirmation, rather than the administration which picked him out from among all possible candidates. Bravo, Byron, bravo.




The nicest thing anyone has ever said to me

"Aw, go back to your textbooks, philosopher boy. And I say that with my shotgun pointed at your pointy hay-ud." Said here, in response to this, which was in turn responding to this article and someone's (not the person quoted above) attempts to claim that the actions of the police officers discussed therein were too morally ambiguous to be condemned.




Card Carrying Member

One of the great things about blogging is that you don't need a news hook. One common criticism of the ACLU is that they do not fight to protect 2nd Amendment Rights, but they do fight to protect many other rights. That is, while they frequently join or even encourage action against laws which facially appear to violate the First Amendment by establishing a religion, preventing the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech; the Fourth Amendment by allowing unreasonable searches and seizures; or the Fourteenth Amendment by not providing for equal protection under the law, they do not join or encourage law suits challenging laws which require licenses, waiting periods, or other burdens upon the right to bear arms (nb. the links aren't random so much as carefully picked out to counteract some common false claims about the ACLU).

Many people claim that the ACLU's lack of positive action against gun-control laws (I know of no examples of the ACLU taking legal actions in favor of gun-control laws, though there could be some I am unaware of) is reason enough for them to not support, and to in fact oppose, the entire organization. If anyone thinks this is a strawman, that there are no people who think this a sufficient reason to oppose the ACLU, comment and I'll take the time to find such people explicity saying so.

Granting for the purposes of argument that a) the ACLU's position on the Second Amendment is wrong on the merits (I've never studied the issue, but it seems likely to me) and b) actively defending the right to bear arms is as or more important than defending other constitutional rights in the current political environment and as valuable a use for the ACLU's resources (a belief that is quite mad), this seems at most a reason to not donate to the ACLU and to chide them for mistakenly (hypocritically? They're very clear on their 2nd Amendment position) not defending each and every part of the Bill of Rights with equal vigor. It doesn't make their great efforts to defend other rights anything but great efforts, even if one really thinks that defending the right to bear arms is an as good or better use for their limited resources.

What makes those attempts not great is if one really thinks atheists should be legally coerced into participating in religious life, or that protesting the government really needs to be curtailed.




Floodwater is receding

Via Amygdala, the Interdictor, a blog from someone who is holed up in New Orleans with what seems to be a medium-sized, well-organized, group in a high-rise office with diesel generators, and keeping the world up to date on what he's seeing. His interview by cellphone with someone whom he knows who is still at the convention center starts like this: "Three days ago, police and national guard troops told citizens to head toward the Crescent City Connection Bridge to await transportation out of the area. The citizens trekked over to the Convention Center and waited for the buses which they were told would take them to Houston or Alabama or somewhere else, out of this area."

Amygdala also has a link to someone's blog from Pleasantville, NY (rather near my hometown), who has assembled a collection of images from Katrina including this:


Egoistic charity

One way to make yourself feel useful (by being useful) in light of this on-going disaster: Give blood (link is for New York). Here's one for nationwide. This won't help those directly affected, for that give money or housing stock, but it is very needed and helps out society as a whole.




Sincere, then snark

First, if you haven't donated yet, I have a link four posts down for Red Cross donations to alleviate the damage from Katrina, and they still definitely need money, as the news out of New Orleans grows increasingly horrific.

Second, I have a follow up on the post directly below this one on the sort of garbled/ repetitive post below this one, on Jeremy Blachman's proposal to make bloggers a protected calls under anti-discrimination law (my wording, his proposal, see below). After reading Will's thoughts on the Op-ed I now realize that this is just a very clever way to completely end at-will employment by creating a protected calls that anyone can join with minimal effort. Even for those with no computer of their own or computer skills, surely workplace advocates will assist them in creating a blog and putting up at least one post (does it take more than this for one to join the class of bloggers?) using computers at their local library or some other free institution. Once everyone is a blogger, all firings will be held to stricter scrutiny, as everyone can argue that they were fired because of their harmless blog, in violation of the proposed Blachman bill.