Thursday, September 29, 2005

Dinner in Metarie

In this morning's email.

I'd been trying to plan a trip to New Orleans to eat at Marisol. That trip has been delayed but good to know that Chef Pete is still up and running and that Marisol may one day be open for business.

Marisol is still Closed: Vega Tapas Cafe is Open!
This is the "Great News" part of the story

Dear Friend

Thank you so very much for all your supportive and
cheerful e-mails. Despite your best wishes, Marisol is
still CLOSED! We have no electricity or clean, running
water in our restaurant.

We do have great news for you, though. Vega Tapas
Cafe, owned and operated by Glen Hogh (our good
friend and former maitre d') will re-open on
Thursday! Please keep reading for all the


Janis Vazquez

Visit Vega Tapas Cafe website -

Vega Tapas Cafe Grand Re-Opening!

What does "Vega" mean? It means "Wind" in
Spanish! Even Hurricane Katrina, the biggest wind
ever, can't take the wind from Glen Hogh's sails.

Vega Tapas Cafe re-opens on Thursday, September
29 at 5:30 pm. Chef Michael Hampton is in the
kitchen as usual creating all the small Mediterranean
plates that Vega is known for.

Your wonderful host, Glen Hogh, will be making sure
that everything goes smoothly everywhere. And I,
Janis Vazquez, will be behind the bar making big
drinks to calm your storm-shattered nerves.

Vega Tapas Cafe Re-Opening
Thursday, September 29, 2005
5:30pm - 9:30pm
2051 Metairie Road

About Vega Tapas Cafe

* FREE parking out front & in the lot across the

* Vega offers catering

* Big wine list and a sexy, stylish bar with all your
favorite cocktails

Call Vega Tapas Cafe

Call Glen Hogh at 836-2007. Vega Tapas will be open
this week on Thursday, Friday & Saturday from
5:30pm - 9:30pm. Glen expects the schedule to
change as post-hurricane conditions improve.

Here's the "Great Deals" part of the story

Now through October 31, you may redeem any
Marisol Birthday Card or any Marisol Newsletter Dining
Certificate at Vega Tapas Cafe for one-half of its
face value!

Or, you may print this e-mail and fill in the following
information to receive $5 off any purchase now thru
October 31:

CITY& STATE_________________________________
ZIP CODE_______________

Offer Expires: October 31, 2005

Lost: Season 2, Episode 2

From a TWOP comment:
And Locke remembered the rule from Ghostbusters: “Ray, when someone asks if you're a God, you say "Yes"!”

Thoughts on last night’s episode:
  1. Desmond is not responsible for everyone being on the island.
  2. Desmond did not know Jack was on the island and I'm not sure he even recognized Jack.
  3. Desmond expects everyone outside the hatch to be sick and dying and he's surprised civilization still exists.
  4. Looks like the backenders have had a rough time on their end of the island.
  5. When the guy you presumed drowned runs down the beach screaming and his hands are tied behind his back - that is not a good time to sit down and swap recipes. Pick his ass up and start running.

Half-assed guesses:
  • The race around the world remark was real and Desmond is also marooned on the island?
  • But how did he then get in the shelter?
  • He was left there as part of a group or deprivation experiment?
  • The quarantine thing is a scam to keep Desmond from leaving.
  • Desmond doesn't know why he has to enter the numbers, just that he does.
  • The numbers are a sign to the observers that Desmond is still alive and functioning.
  • Desmond knows nothing.
  • The Others are also marooned. But what about the unseaworthy boat they have? Don't know.
  • Both ends of the plane will spend the rest of the season trying to integrate and fight off the others. Battle royale to end the season, killing off the others and saving Walt.
  • Still won't know who the others are or why anyone is on the island.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Enforcing rules with a kind of neo-Puritanical rigor

Quick recap, Ann comments on Bob Dylan, commenters at Crooked Timber give themselves wedgies and then back to Ann for more commenting on comments on comments...or something.

Taking a different tack, let's look at part of the comment by Mark Daniels.
As a Christian, I'm really bothered by the connection made by some--Christians and others--between Christian faith and conservatism. Christianity is not a political program and it's perfectly possible for Christians to be liberal Dems as well as conservative Republicans. (By the way, I'm a Republican.) Jesus has no political party. Governments--and the varying philosophies about how best to run them--are what Martin Luther called "emergency measures" necessitated by the fallenness and consequent selfishness that exists in the human race.

I like that. I'm not religious, but it sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I think it often comes down to what must be a human need to divide everything into binary systems. "If I consider myself left and you disagree with me, then you must be right." Of course the whole left/right thing is pretty much a matter of perspective. I have friends who would consider me so far left of them that I'm feeding castro grapes and I have friends who would consider me so far right of them that I'm forcing infants to pick grapes for me.

I dip into Crooked Timber once in a while because they can have interesting topics, but they do have a bit of myopia in certain areas. For a group that tends to pigeon-hole "conservatives" as single-minded and simplistic, their reaction to the Bob Dylan thought reveals an equally simplistic view of the world. Althouse and Reynolds are, for some unknown reason, bee stings on their ass and the CT gang cannot deal rationally with them.

Back to religion. I'm not a church-going person and tend to avoid organized (or for that matter, disorganized) religions. Still I recognize the value of the social contract that religion has played throughout history. So while I can also be guilty of kneejerk linking the Christian faith with conservatism I do try and remind myself this is not always so. And that being religious is not the same as being closeminded and bigoted. Unfortunately, too many people who consider themselves openminded progessives get a bit jihadist when confronted by someone holding a bible*.

All of this reminded me of a passage from Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.

Having separated from Charlene, Randy shows up with a new girlfriend (actually, at this point in the story their relationship is still in flux and Randy still has doubts about Amy's sexuality. Let's just say that to the neighbors Amy represents the "other woman.")

He embodies (he realizes) just about the worst nightmare, for many women, of what might happen in their lives. As for the men he saw last night, they were pretty strongly incensed to back whatever stance their wives adopted. Some them really did, apparently, feel similarly. Others eyed him with obvious curiosity. Some were openly friendly. Weirdly, the ones who adopted the sternest and most terrible Old Testament moral tone were the Modern Language Association types who believed that everything was relative and that, for example, polygamy was as valid as monogamy. The friendliest and most sincere welcome he'd gotten was from Scott, a chemistry professor, and Laura, a pediatrician, who after knowing Randy and Charlene for many years, had one day divulged to Randy, in strict confidence, that, unbeknownst to the academic community at large, they had been spiriting their three children off to church every Sunday morning, and even had them all baptized.


Randy and Amy had spent a full hour talking to Scott and Laura last night; they were the only people who made any effort to make Amy feel welcome. Randy hadn't the faintest idea what these people thought of him and what he had done, but he could sense right away that, essentially that was not the issue because even if they though he had done something evil, they at least had a framework, a sort of procedure manual, for dealing with transgressions. To translate it into UNIX system administration terms (Randy's fundamental metaphor for just about everything), the post=modern, politically correct atheists were like people who had suddenly found themselves in charge of a big and unfathomably complex computer system (viz. society) with no documentation o instructions of any kind, and so whose only way to keep the thing running was to invent and enforce rules with a kind of neo-Puritanical rigor, because they were at a loss to deal with any deviations from what they saw as the norm. Whereas people who were wired into a church were like UNIX system administrators who, while they might not understand everything, at least had some documentation, some FAQs and How-tos and README files, providing some guidance on what to do when things got out of whack. They were, in other words, capable of displaying adaptability.

Having said all that, keep Intelligent Design out of science classes. In the words of MC Hawking: "Fuck the Creationists." Hey, never said I didn't have a blindspot.

What I learned today

Sports bras were invented in 1977 by Hinda Miller and Lisa Lindhal, two Vermont joggers who were tired of their breasts bouncing with each step. One evening in Lindhal's home, a male friend pulled a jock strap out of a laundry basket and held it to his chest, saying, "Look, a jock bra." They made the first sports bra by sewing two jock straps together.

What rhymes with pizza?

According to Rhymezone, it's srebrenica. That's almost as bad as "orange."

In Bosnia, for dinner I advised a group
Mostly, they just wanted soup
When they asked for a pizza
I recommended a shop in Srebrenica
Which was nothing but tomato-flavored goop

While eating out in europe
I asked for pancakes and syrup
And just like the pizza
I ordered in Srebrenica
They brought me a 60-year-old trollop

I'll be in my bunk*

Ann Althouse conducts a survey:
If I'm staying home with kids, that bra is coming off! A bra is for going out into the male-dominated world and achieving. As soon as you cross the home threshold, that bra is off. Right, ladies? What is the lag time for you between when you walk through the door and when you take off the bra? Five minutes, tops? Is it the first, second, or third thing you do when you come home?

*Firefly reference

Update: DISAPPOINTED! For a survey, women are providing very little usable information. Althouse commenters need to provide more numbers, letters, and possibly, time zones if I'm to make any type of credible spreadsheet.

Monday, September 26, 2005

No dance pants allowed

Maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention all those years ago, or maybe times have changed. But the Irishettes seem to have a particularly micromanaged practice wardrobe.
Members must be dressed properly for each practice.  Practice clothes include shorts with tights underneath and tight fitting sports bras with tank tops.  NO DANCE PANTS WILL BE ALLOWED DURING PRACTICE.  Pants, t-shirts, and sweatshirts will be permitted throughout warm-ups, but MUST be taken off when dancing begins.  Each dancer is required to have both their jazz shoes AND a pair of supportive tennis shoes at every practice.  Knee pads are optional.  All hair must be back and out of dancers’ faces during practice.  NO GUM will be permitted at all during practice.  NO JEWELRY will be permitted either, with the exception of stud earrings.

What are dance pants? And why are they forbidden?

With parents like these... wonder they have bratty children.

As a father of an almost 4-year-old, Amy Alkon is completely in the right. What did she say? Just a very proper, It's very disturbing that you allow your children to scream like that.
When I finally said something to them, they were aghast. Hey, ladies (and I’m using that term loosely), if I wanted to hear screaming babies, I’d go read my newspaper and eat my breakfast in a nursery school. Commenting on their oblivion to the presence of anyone but themselves in the place, I noted that my mother and father didn’t bring us anywhere until they were sure we didn’t disturb others. The mother giving me the finger repeatedly called me “ugly” and a “bitch” for suggesting they could be more considerate. She continued: “What do lonely, angry bitches like you know?” Well, a little something about public consideration, just for starters. I thought it was particularly funny that she suggested I look in the mirror (at my "ugly face") -- as if this would help me put a cork in her kid.

The other night, we went out to a local restaurant. A family of four - girl about three and a boy about 5 - comes in and takes up two tables for eight. Both kids are placed in high chairs. Personally, our daughter has refused a high chair since about two and sits at the table like a normal adult. The parents also placed shower curtains under the chairs to contain the mess. And what a mess. Small kids are expected to make somewhat of a mess, but when a 3 and 5-year old are throwing more food then they're eating, this is a serious behavioral issue.

Did I mention the high chairs were placed at opposite ends of the two tables? This was so there would be enough room in front of each child to hold their own personal DVD players. God forbid the parents have to interact with their own children. Which, they had no intention of dong...or of interacting with each other. While the children watched their movies and tossed the dinners on the floor, the parents read their own papers and sucked down their own alcoholic beverages. These are the kids that will be given Hummers upon turning 16 and will complain because it's the wrong color.


Arrested Development is the funniest show on television. Possibly ever. The only other show I can think of that comes close is Fawlty Towers and AD has aired at least three times the amount of shows John Cleese did. The problem is NO ONE IS WATCHING. But we handful of viewers are the beneficiaries of this. I'm convinced the writers have stopped caring; not in a bad way, though. My thoughts are everyone involved was pleased as could be to get two seasons; however, no amount of praise can keep it on the air much longer. Therefore, the writers have gone full-blown gonzo and are throwing some of the most improbable stories, with some of the skankiest - and funniest - humor ever to grace the airwaves, much less the "family hour" Fox schedules it for. I have not a clue where this "wee Britain" and the British spy thing is going, other than being unforgettable.

Did you not see everyone doing their own version of the chicken dance? No talking nonsense in front of Bob Loblaw? Mr gay is bleeding? You're a regular Brad Garrett? Washing the hand with the pots and pans? The I'm Oscar website? Merry Poppuns?

No? Bah.

Michael:Maybe it's love you feel.
Gob:Don't be silly Michael, I know what an erection feels like.

Jaime Weinman discusses why My Name is Earl will be be more popular than Arrested Development:
So here we have a great but unpopular show, "Arrested Development," and a new show that seems to be doing some of the same things but achieving more success with the public. So the interesting question, and one that the networks are going to be asking if "Earl" becomes a big hit, is what does "Earl" have that the other quirky dysfunctional one-camera (or in "Arrested Development"'s case, two-camera) sitcoms don't?

Songs for arsonists

Burning Down the House, Talking Heads
I'm an ordinary guy
Burning down the house

Angel from Montgomery, John Prine
If dreams were thunder and lightening desire
This old house would have burned down long time ago

She Found a Fool, Paul Cebar
He's a mere passerby
She's a flaming house on fire
You could see it burning there
Long before she banked it higher

Fire on Babylon, Sinead O'Connor
Life's backwards Life's backwards
People turn around
The house is burned The house is burned
The children are gone

House of Fire, Alice Cooper
House of fire
House of fire, yeah
Let's build a house of fire, baby

This House is on Fire, Natalie Merchant
It's all gonna catch like a house on fire,
spark an evil blaze and burn higher.

Fire, Leonard Cohen
I burnt the house of love tonight
It made a perfect ring

House on Fire, Kansas
She's like a flame; she's burning higher
She's like a house on fire - House on fire

The Home Fire, Louis Armstrong ((George Weiss / Bob Thiele)
I'm headin' straight for my hearts desire
Gee, it's good to know I'm near the home fire

House Burning Down, Jimi Hendrix
Look at the sky turn a hell fire red
Somebody's house is burnin' down down, down down

Burning House of Love, X
smoke is rising from the fire
coming out my back door

A House, Dove
it was a day like this and my house burnt down
and the walls were thin and they crashed to the ground

Burn Down the Mission, Elton John
Behind four walls of stone the rich man sleeps
It’s time we put the flame torch to their keep

London's Burning, The Clash
London's burning with boredom now
London's burning dial 99999


U.N. stands for "useless ninnies"

Gregg Easterbrook:
Last week in New York, some 150 heads of state gathered for a summit to encourage the nations of the West to donate more aid to the impoverished of the developing world. Western nations should, in fact, increase the aid they give. Relatively small amounts by Western standards go a long way toward reducing human suffering in the world. And though corruption is an obvious problem, Western aid has accomplished far more for average people in developing nations than is generally understood. The details of that argument are here. The short version is that the reason the predicted Malthusian catastrophes have not struck developing nations is that aid helped prevent them. More, United States spending on foreign aid is much lower than popularly imaged -- only about one half of one percent of the federal budget is used for this purpose. We ought to give more.

But yours truly read in the New York Times that the influx of foreign leaders for the conference had flooded Manhattan's luxury hotels. The Four Seasons, where a deluxe suite costs $2,950 nightly plus tax, and the cheapest room is $625, was fully booked with foreign officials coming to New York to hector the United States for not giving more to other nations. At the Waldorf Towers, where a "grand" suite with dining room and boudoir costs $3,000 nightly, all 26 suites were booked by foreign delegations. Set aside were many of the super-expensive rooms were being occupied by government officials of the very nations needing aid -- that is, by leaders who are busily robbing their own people while asking America to pony up. I simply wonder how many millions of dollars were spent on luxury suites, first class travel and four-star meals for 150 heads of state and their staffs to come together and wring their hands about why doesn't someone else do more about poverty! Instead of spending that money on themselves, the officials who attended last week's United Nations meeting could have stayed home and given the money to the poor.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The really expensive Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium will soon open in downtown Atlanta. Along with being the world's largest aquarium, it will also have the highest admission prices for any aquarium outside of the Seaworld amusement parks.

All of which makes the AJC article on the Georgia Aquarium pricing just a bit odd. Partly, it’s the tone, which seems to go out of the way to excuse the high prices. Partly, it’s the omissions. Atlanta has a number of very good aquariums within a day’s drive and the article references none for comparison: North Carolina has 3, South Carolina has 2, Tennessee 1, Kentucky 1, New Orleans did have 1, and any number of places in Florida. That's a lot of fish and water only a few hours drive away.

For example, a family of four could visit the Tennessee aquarium for $23 less than the Georgia aquarium. It’s less than a two hour drive and that will cover your gas. The Tennessee aquarium also offers a family membership. In fact, since your first admission can be applied towards the membership, you’re money ahead if you only visit twice.

Another omission, or perhaps an inaccuracy, is the following:
The aquarium is not offering family discount tickets, which are common for some entertainment venues but rare in the aquarium community.

"I don't know of any major aquariums that do family plans," said Ken Peterson, spokesman for the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Actually, family discounts are not rare, if by “not rare” I mean more than half of all aquariums offer family memberships. And the nice thing about family memberships is that most are for two adults and two children under eighteen. This is significant when you consider that most aquariums also charge children over the age of twelve as adults. Being a spokesman, Mr. Peterson has an easy to find email address, so I emailed him. Here's his response:
You're correct that we and other aquariums routinely offer family memberships. Typically, for-profit theme parks offer "season passes" to make repeat visitation more attractive.My quote addressed "season passes" as opposed to memberships, and the unusual approach the Georgia Aquarium seems to be taking by offering special ticket pricing for a season of visits, as opposed to a family membership. Membership typically carries with it other benefits beyond unlimited admission (member-only events, a newsletter and the like), and is created as a way to connect people to the conservation mission of the institution. Needless to say, our hope is that members deepend their relationship, as donors or conservation activists, and become more than just frequent visitors.

Note the unusual approach. To me, this sounds like the Georgia Aquarium is offering less and charging more for it.

Let’s compare Tennessee versus Georgia with two adults and two teenagers. Both charge children thirteen and older at the adult price.

Tennessee aquarium would cost $71.80 (17.95 x 4) for a day visit.
Georgia aquarium would cost $91.00 (22.75 x 4) for a day visit.

Now, according to the article, the Georgia aquarium does offer annual passes. That’s $59.50 a person ($43.25 if under 12), so the same family of four could pay $238 for annual passes. That would require three visits before you started saving money.

Now take a look at the Tennessee aquarium, they have a family pass for $85. That’s unlimited visits for two adults and two children under eighteen. You’ve paid for the membership less than halfway through your second visit.

In other words, with the family/annual pass the Tennessee aquarium will cost you $85 for three visits, while the Georgia aquarium will cost you $238.

The article also mentions the Shedd aquarium in Chicago with the highest admission at $23. This is also slightly deceptive. If you check the Shedd's ticket prices you’ll see that Chicago residents get a discount--$17 for adults and $12 for children, as opposed to $23/$16. The Georgia aquarium offers no such discount, so for Georgia customers the Georgia aquarium is easily the most expensive aquarium ticket in the country.

Searching the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, I’ve listed most of facilities that operate solely as aquariums. For the table below, I’ve extracted those aquariums that charge $15 or more for an adult ticket for a comparison of “major” aquariums. Remember, the article states "Ticket prices are similar to those of other major aquariums throughout he country but are not cheap." As you can see, the "not cheap" is correct, though the prices aren't that similar to other major aquariums. Perhaps if they had a membership plan, the Georgia Aquarium would seem more reasonable.

As it is, the cost for a family of four to attend the Georgia Aqurium is more than $19 above the average of the other major aquariums.

note: there's something screwy with the table formatting, so scroll down a bit for the rest of this.

AquariumadultchildFamily of 4 per dayFamily membership
Mote, Sarasota FL151050none
SC Aq, Charleston SC15846$80
Dallas TX15.958.9549.80$135
Adventure, Camden NJ16.9513.9561.80none
Ripley's, Myrtle Beach16.959.9553.80none
Mystic Aq, Mystic CT17.512.560$110
Tennessee Aq, Chattanooga17.959.554.90$85

Aq of the Pacific, Long Beach CA18.9510.9559.80$109
National Aq, Baltimore MD19.513.566$109
Monterey Bay21.9510.9565.80$175
Shedd, Chicago23.0016.0078.00$95

Personally, I have nothing against the Georgia Aquarium. I like aquariums. It's just that other than the vanity of the Atlanta leaders and Bernie Marcus, I've never understood the appeal of this project. As we usually attend the Tennessee Aquarium about twice a year, we'll save our money by driving to Chattanooga.

For reference, here's a fuller list of aquariums around the country.

Adventure Aquarium, Camden, New Jersey
Adult (Ages 13-64) $16.95
Youth (Ages 2-12) $13.95
no family passes

Moody Gardens, Galveston, Texas
Adults (12-64): $14.25
Children (4-12): $6.95
Family membership is $260, but is admission to 7 attractions.

Aquarium of the Bay, SanFrancisco, CA
Adult (Ages 11-64) $13.95
Youth (Ages 3-11) $6.50
Family Membership (2 adults, 2 children): $65

Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, CA
Adult: $18.95
Child (3-11): $10.95
Family: $109 - 1 or 2 adults and their children (ages 3 –17)

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans, LA
currently not available due to Katrina

Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, Bermuda, FL
Adults $10
Children (5 to 12 years) $5
Family $55

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Inst. of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA
Adult, 18-59 years $11.00
Youth (3-17 yrs,) $7.50
No family plan

Houston Aquarium, Houston TX
Adults: $8.99
Kids (under 12): $5.99

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey CA
Adult: $21.95
Child (3 thru 12): $10.95
Family membership: $175

Mote Marine Aquarium, Sarasota FL
Adults: $15
Children 4-12: $10

Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, Mystic CT
Adult: $17.50
Children (age 3 - 17): $12.50
Family membership: Family $110

National Aquarium in Baltimore, Baltimore MD
Adults: $19.50
Children (3 to 11): $13.50
Family membership: $109

New York Aquarium, Brooklyn, NY
Adults: $12
Child (2-12): $8.00
Family membership: $120

Newport Aquarium, Newport KY
Adults: $17.95
Children (ages 3 through 12): $10.95
Family membership (2 adults and 2 children 3-13): $107.60

North Carolina Aquariums
Adults: $7
Children: Ages 6-17: $5
family membership: $40 - free family admission to all three NC aquariums.

Ripley's Aquarium, Myrtle Beach SC
Adults (12 yrs and older): $16.95
Children (Ages 5-11): $9.95
Adult annual pass: $36.95

Seattle Aquarium, Seattle WA
Adult 13+: $12.00
Youth 6-12: $8.00
Family membership: $60

South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston, SC
Adults (12-61) $15.00
Youth (6-11) $8.00
Family membership: $80

Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga, TN
Adult: $17.95
Child (3-12): $9.50
Family membership: $85

The Dallas World Aquarium, Dallas TX
Adults: $15.95
Children (3-12 Years): $8.95
Family membership: $135

The Florida Aquarium, Tampa FL
Adults: $17.95
Children under 12: $11.95
Party of Four Membership: $90

Monday, September 19, 2005

Finding me finding you

A few people have stumbled across this page, none of whom I know. Utterly fascinating.

I'm finding about half my visitors have come for the dentata excerpt from Snow Crash from a link in the Althouse comments. Welcome.

A fair number have come for the Clarke's third law corollaries. That one got me a link from The Sideshow and ahistoricality. The latter saying "My initial enthusiasm for So Quoted has been justified" in reference to my Roberts hearing summaries. That was nice.

I also had someone show up looking for Paul Cebar lyrics. Oh, that made me feel bad. I'd only mentioned one Cebar song in my Educamation: Counting playlist. Just in case that person, or anyone else comes back I'll provide some lyrics. From the lyrical and latin influenced "the get go" CD, here is "She Found a Fool" by Paul Cebar. Rock on.

She found a fool
I believe she's gone and found herself a fool
Someone to up and send her back to school
As much as I like to see her loving
That's how much I hate to see her cry
And I believe she's gone
And found herself a fool

Dragging through her afternoons
Typing someone's troubles away
With her eyes shining at night
She's longing to put her ball in play
She's been kneeling, feeling,
And sitting on it
Raring back and letting fly
All the hours laughing alone
Put a whole new light in her eye

I believe she's gone and found herself a fool
Someone to up and bend her every rule
As much as I like to see her loving
That's how much I'd like to be that guy
And I believe she's gone
And found herself a fool.

He's a mere passerby
She's a flaming house on fire
You could see it burning there
Long before she banked it higher
I was more neighborly
I was downright kind
He charmed her from the corner
without even trying
Love's burning brightly and any fool can see
But this fool can only wonder
What that fool will be

As much as I like to see her loving
That's how much I'd like to be that guy
And I believe she's gone and found herself
I believe she's gone and found herself
I believe she's gone and found herself
A fool

I found a cure

Ok, it still needs more testing, but I think I stumbled upon a cure for allergy induced insomnia:

2 maximum strength Benadryl
2 extra strength Tylenol PM
1 bottle of Bartle & James wine cooler

That's how tired I was - I hadn't had a wine cooler for at least 20 years, yet it seemed like the thing to buy. Actually not a bad idea. Something stronger might have pushed me over that coma line I was drawing in the sand.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Phone system shortcuts

This is an invaluable list - shortcuts for getting through a company's IVR system. Found at Amy Alkon, who found it at Jackie Danicki, who credits Lifehacker. For an example, here are a few cell phone companies.

  • ATT Wireless 800-888-7600 No easy escape
  • Cellular One 888-910-9191 press 4, say "agent", then #
  • Cingular 800-331-0500 For faster service, press the option that you are looking to close your account, You get the same ppl but an immediate answer
  • Cricket 800-274-2538 Press 3, 1, then 3 again.
  • Nextel 800-639-6111 Press "0" five times
  • Sprint PCS 888-788-5001 Zero twice, then say "agent"
  • T-Mobile 800-937-8997 Enter your phone number
  • Verizon Wireless 800-922-0204 dial # then double zero

Jack Sparks is busy exposing frauds

Zellweger divorces Chesney:
Thumper's dad taught him that if you couldn't say something nice, don't say anything at all. But it's worth pointing out that it only took Renee 5 months to figure out what I've known all along. Maybe his tractor isn't so sexy after all. I think I'll drop an email to my old Buddy, Buddy Cannon and see what Renee means by "fraud." F-R-A-U-D, in sworn court documents, under penalty of perjury and sanction. God shouldn't tease me like this.

Jack discusses packaging:
The number one Billboard Country song right now is "Play Something Country," by Brooks & Dunn. This comes from the authentic duo--put together by the marketing managers of two labels in Nashville who thought one's voice and the other's pouty cowboy act would play well with the hausfraus--who brought you the boot-scootin' fucking boogie.

Well fuck you Kixx (what a stupid fucking name by the way, what's your real name?) and Ronnie. Johnny Cash fucking hated you. And he hated you too, Kenny. He hated all of you people in Nashville. You know why? You gave up relevance for money. Country music wasn't going anywhere. It wasn't like it was just going to up and disappear. But you panicked and decided it needed to be a product.

"Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy," isn't in the Harlan Howard tradition. Harlan Howard would have invented that phrase, not read it off of a bumper sticker and made a song out of it, ten or fifteen fucking years after it was first said. The long ago dead genius of the songwriters in Nashville was their ability to translate common life into meaningful music with clever twists of language. You fucking people have turned that all around bass-ackwards. Now you take jingle slogans and inundate your radio listeners with them until they go to the fucking Wal-Mart and buy whatever it is you're selling.

Several people at a small radio station in Stillwater can attest to this. I got piles and piles of mail in the last few months encouraging me to vote for this and for that for CMA awards. Many for artists in direct competition with each other for THE SAME CATEGORY. Piles of it. You want to know the joke? IT ALL CAME FROM THE SAME ADDRESS IN NASHVILLE.

Conspiracy monger at the New York Times

Ron Rosenbaum analyzes the dubious work of editor William S. Niederkorn:
But I think Mr. Greenblatt is making a point about the relativism that giving equal time to “both sides” of the “authorship controversy” entails.

What if, for instance, over the course of three and a half years (the length of Mr. Niederkorn’s Shakespeare tenure), the Times aerospace correspondent had given “equal time” (or more) to those who believe that the moon landings were a staged hoax, say? Many people believe it to be true, after all (48,000 Google hits for “moon landing hoax”). Should the moon-landing hoax theory be taught in schools alongside astrophysics?

Other scholars have expressed concern, embarrassment and anger that the paper of record appears to have given its imprimatur to the belief that the authorship controversy is the central Shakespearean question.

But I think another appropriate emotion might be deep sadness. At a time when schools and colleges everywhere are dropping their requirements that students read any of Shakespeare’s works, we are now told it’s important they take away from whatever time they do have to read the greatest writer in the language in order to focus on fringe beliefs about the secret identity of the author.

I should say that this is not the only view advanced in The Times. I’ve written about the state of Shakespearean scholarship for the Book Review and about productions for Arts & Leisure without ever being asked by any editor whether I was sure who wrote the plays. And the “authorship controversy” doesn’t feature in Ben Brantley’s superbly informed reviews of Shakespearean productions. I have a feeling that many literate Times people are a bit embarrassed by what’s happened with its Shakespeare coverage.

But the fact that continuing coverage of developments in Shakespeare studies has been the province of someone who places the “authorship controversy” at the center of focus has the effect of giving credibility to a conspiracy theory that lacks any positive evidence: any record of any witness, at any time, ever alluding to it. (Were all the witnesses shot or silenced, like the 22 gunmen on the “grassy knoll” in Dallas?)

Ray Davies on New Orleans

Ray Davies, of the Kinks - the best rock band ever to come out of England, discusses his impressions of New Orleans:
At the time of my shooting I was trying to develop a musical event for a local school in New Orleans to raise funds for instruments and new uniforms for them to wear at Mardi Gras. Music, particularly in the school marching bands, gives many of the kids down there an opportunity to participate in the local community. This in turn raises their expectations and it is to be hoped, stops them descending into the local drug and gang culture waiting around the corner. I was due back later in the year to put on a show for Thanksgiving to raise a few extra bucks for the community. This all seems so trivial now.

But the reality is that without its music New Orleans would have been a forgotten city long ago. The music of the American South inspired me and helped to shape me as a musician. They say that jazz started on Perdido Street in New Orleans and even Louis Armstrong honed his trade in the honky-tonks on Bourbon Street.

I owe as much to music of the Southern states as I do to the British music that inspired me. If New Orleans is allowed to die, a crucial part of the world’s musical heritage will disappear.

He also has a 4-track EP, The Tourist, due out September 26.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Attempting commenting on the first day of questioning of the Roberts confirmation hearings

A recap of the first day of questioning with hand puppets:

Specter: Do you agree, as I do, that you will refuse to say anything meaningful about Roe V. Wade?

Roberts: I would just like to say, stare decisis, precedents, stare decisis and precendents, precendents and stare decisis, and in closing, Casey.

Leahy: Is the president EVIL or just evil? And why you hate sick children?

Roberts: Could you at least pretend to have paid attention to what I wrote? And just so we’re clear, every time I say “with all due respect…” what I really mean is “Could you be any more of a d*ckhead?”

Hatch I’ve been in Congress a very long time and I know stuff.

Roberts: I believe judges should be thoughtful and pay attention to all issues under review.

Kennedy We all know you hate black people so get it over with and say somethng insulting.

Roberts: Reagan was right, you were wrong, the Supreme Court agreed with us, get over it.

Grassley I like flowers. Do you like flowers? I think flowers are pretty.

Roberts: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to bring the issue of precedents to the table. Also, sometimes the court has to decide hard cases and they should do so in a thoughtful manner. cough Precedents cough

Biden I would like to use my time to read these overly clever questions my staff wrote for me: baseball, baseball, baseball, Ginsburg, Ginsburg, Ginsburg....and now my Sam Kinison impression, SAY IT SAY IT AH AH AH AHHHHH!!!!!!!

Roberts: Once again, the Supreme Court concluded that it was a correct reading of the law, so talk to the hand, analogy boy.

offstage narrator: I'm tired and Rockstar: INXS is coming on. Screw this.

Summarizing with MS Word's autosummarize feature. I grouped all questions/statements/responses for each Senator and summarized thusly, as opposed to summarizing individual questions. Same for Roberts.

Specter, concentrates on Roe V. Wade:
Justice Scalia articulated, quote, The principal purpose of stare decisis is to protect reliance interest and further stability in the law. Justice Frankfurter articulated the principle, quote, Well, do you see any erosion of precedent as to Roe?

Do you agree with that statement, Judge Roberts?

Let me come to another key phase of Casey, where the joint opinion says a, quote, Terrible price would be paid for overruling Roe. One final citation from the joint opinion in Roe, quote: After nearly 20 years of litigation in Roe's wake, we are satisfied that the immediate question is not the soundness of Roe's resolution of the issue, but the precedential force that must be accorded to its holding.

Do you think that the cases which have followed Roe fall into the category of a super stare decisis designation?

Judge Roberts, in your confirmation hearing for the circuit court, your testimony read to this effect, and it's been widely quoted: Roe is the settled law of the land.

There have been questions raised about your personal views. With respect to going back again to the import of Roe and the passage of time, Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist changed his views on Miranda.

I'm talking about Chief Justice Rehnquist on Miranda.

Roberts responds with stare decisis and precedents:
I'm happy to discuss the principles of stare decisis.

And the court has developed a series of precedents on precedent, if you will. The erosion of precedents, I think, figured more prominently in the courts discussion in the Lawrence case, for example. That decision, that application of the principles of stare decisis is, of course, itself a precedent that would be entitled to respect under those principles.

I think one way to look at it is that the Casey decision itself, which applies the principles of stare decisis to Roe v. Wade, is itself a precedent of the court entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis. That is itself a precedent. It's a precedent on whether or not to revisit the Roe v. Wade precedent. Well, beyond that, it's settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis. Well, I think those are some of the considerations the court applied in Casey when it applied stare decisis to Roe. I would repeat that the court has already applied the principles of stare decisis to Roe in the Casey decision. And that stands as a precedent of the court, as well.

Leahy wants to know is the president EVIL or just evil? And why does Roberts hate sick children?
Let's go to the president's power as commander in chief of the armed forces. Your memo suggests that Congress is powerless to stop a president who is going to conduct an unauthorized war. The president vetoes the law. The Congress overrides that, sets into law, You must withdraw by a certain date.

Now, is there any question in your mind that the president would be bound to faithfully execute that law?

I mean, isn't this kind of hornbook law? The Congress says to the president, You got to get out, and pass a law which is either signed into law by the president or you override a presidential veto. Right. Let me ask you this question: Does Congress have the power to declare war?

Does Congress, then, have the power to stop a war?

We have the power to declare war. Do we have the power to terminate war?

It was entitled War Powers Problem. The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel issued a secret opinion in August 2002 which argued the president enjoys, quote,

The Supreme Court held that unconstitutional.

Would you consider Youngstown settled law?

Congress cannot deprive the president of the command of the Army and Navy. Do you agree that Congress can make rules that may impinge upon the president's command functions?

In his book, All the Laws But One, Chief Justice Rehnquist, the late chief justice, concluded with this sentence, The laws will not be silent in time of war but they'll speak with a somewhat different voice.

The government was not enforcing the laws.

Roberts thinks it would be a swell idea if Leahy could at least pretend to have paid attention to what Roberts has written.
Well, Senator, that issue of -- and similar issues have, in fact, come up. Right.

Well, with respect, Senator..

Now, there often arise issues where there's a conflict between the legislature and the executive over an exercise of executive authority -- asserted executive authority.

It consists solely of his authority under the constitution, less whatever authority Congress has. I just going to say the first issue for a court confronting the question you posed would be whether Congress specifically intended to address the question of the president's exercise of authority or not.

Certainly, Senator. I suppose a case like that could come before the court. The issue was an open one. The Supreme Court issued its ruling and cleared that up.

Well It's a precedent in the court. The court of appeals had ruled one way. The Supreme Court ruled the other way. The court saw the case the other way. And that issue is now settled. Those damages, actions are brought in courts around the country.

No, Senator, again, there was no issue in the case about condoning the behavior. The issue in the case is: Did Congress intend for this particular remedy to be available?

Other remedies were available under the provision at issue.

Hatch has been in Congress a very long time
Welcome you, again, Judge Roberts...

Now, he discussed various philosophies with regard to judging.

Our chairman asked if former Chief Justice Rehnquist's opinion in the Dickerson case upholding Miranda would apply to Roe v. Wade. I've been on this committee during the hearings on nine Supreme Court nominations. The question that needs to be answered is how you view the role of unelected judges in a representative democracy.

If a judge crosses the line between interpreting and making the law, he has crossed the line supporting his legitimate authority from the legislative branch's authority.

Now, the bottom line is that precedent is weakest in constitutional cases. Does this distinction make sense to you, Judge Roberts?

The Morrison case is a perfect illustration to me. Now, this argument gets even more complicated when the Supreme Court uses provision actually in the Constitution to strike down that a congressional statute, but provisions not in the Constitution to strike down state statutes.

America's founders were clear that the Constitution established a federal government of few and defined powers. Now, could you comment on the Supreme Court's duty to exercise judicial review regarding Congress and state legislatures and their enactments?

Well, thank you, Judge.

Roberts believes judges should be thoughtful:
They've looked at the same cases.

What it says is that they judges are to decide cases that arise under this Constitution -- this new Constitution -- and under and new laws that the Congress might pass.

And what Chief Justice Marshall explained in Marbury vs. Madison was that, well, if we've got to decide cases, that's our constitutional obligation. Now, judges have to decide hard questions when they come up in the context of a particular case. I appreciate the point that in some cases the question of whether you're interpreting the law or making the law -- that that line is hard to draw in some cases.

I would say not in most cases. I think in most cases, most judges know what it means to interpret the law and can recognize when they're going too far into an area of making law.

You go to a case like the Lochner case, you can read that opinion today and it's quite clear that they're not interpreting the law, they're making the law. I have been arguing cases against the executive branch and frequently arguing cases for the proposition of deference in favor of the legislature.

Obviously, the Supreme Court decides cases involving a range of issues and requiring application of different kinds of law, including regulations and statutes as well as the Constitution. Is precedent equally authoritative in, for example, regulatory or statutory cases as in constitutional cases? Now, the Supreme Court says, therefore, that precedent is weakest in constitutional cases.

Obviously, short of amendment, only the court can fix the constitutional precedents.

You and I can agree or disagree on whether the court is right in a particular case.

Kennedy asks Roberts if got his KKK robe from Senator Byrd or did his momma make it for him?:
That Street Law program is a marvelous program. We passed legislation that prevented racial discrimination in housing.

Every one of the new laws was tested in court, all the way to the Supreme Court.

Do you have any doubts as to the constitutionality of the '65 Voting Rights Act? All right.

Let's go to the Voting Rights Act. Let's start with the Voting Rights Act.

You do agree, don't you, don't you, Judge Roberts, that the right to vote is a fundamental constitutional right?

Judge Roberts, Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly supported this legislation. Newt Gingrich, James Sensenbrenner voted for the House bill. It was the law of the land. That was the law of the land that court after court decided about the impact of the effects test. The Mobile case changed the Zimmer case.

No, that's not what -- I think it was wrong, but I also think the law of the land, decided by the Supreme Court in the Zimmer case, upheld in court after court after court after court, was the effects test

Do you support the law that Ronald Reagan signed into law and that was co- sponsored... Right. The 1988 Housing Fair Housing Act.

Let me, if I could, go to the Civil Rights Restoration Act. In 1981, you support an effort by the Department of Education to reverse 17 years of civil right protections at colleges and universities that receive federal funds.

Your efforts to narrow the protection of the civil rights laws did not stop there, however.

In 1984, in Grove City v. Bell, the Supreme Court decided, contrary to the Department of Education regulation that you supported, that student loans and grants did indeed constitute federal assistance to colleges for purposes of triggering civil rights protections.

You vehemently opposed the Civil Rights Restoration Act.

Roberts responds with “Reagan was right, you were wrong, get over it”:
Certainly, Senator.

There's a separate question that would be raised if the Voting Rights Act were extended, as I know Congress is considering. The Supreme Court had interpreted in the Mobile v. Bolden case, Section 2, to have an intent test, not an effects test.

It was the position of the administration for which I worked that the proposal was to extend the Voting Rights Act without change. Well, the Supreme Court...

I certainly agreed that the Voting Rights Act should be extended. Senator, you did not accurately represent my position. Our position, the position of the administration -- and, again, that was the position I was advancing. I was articulating and defending the administration's position. And the administration's position was, yes, you are covered if the students receive federal financial assistance and that the coverage extended to the admissions office. That was the position that the Supreme Court agreed with. The Supreme Court in the Grove City case agreed with that position. So the position the administration had articulated, the Supreme Court concluded, was a correct interpretation of what this body, the Congress, had enacted.
Congress then changed the position about coverage.

Grassley demonstrates what makes an effective softball pitcher:
I think this standard is important for all judges, even more so with Supreme Court justices. Do you agree with this role of the court?

Justice Souter responded to some of my questions by talking about vacuums in the law, specifically that the courts -- and these are his words -- fill vacuums that are maybe left by Congress.

In your questionnaire to the committee, you stated that, quote, Precedent plays an important role in promoting stability of the legal system, end of quote. You also said that a judge operates within, quote, system of rules developed over the years by other judges equally striving to live up to their judicial oath, end of quote.

Erroneous interpretations of the Constitution can be corrected only by this court. End of quote.

You now, as an appeals court judge, obviously are bound by Supreme Court precedent. But on the Supreme Court, a justice has much more freedom to re-evaluate prior Supreme Court decisions.

I'd like to explore the approach that you would take in your examination of Supreme Court precedents. So Senator Kennedy's words were not quoting you, but quoting words that Secretary Bell had in this memo. Ultimately, the Voting Rights Act was reauthorized with a provision expressly prohibiting courts from requiring racial quotas.

Roberts reciprocates with a little batting practice:
It is the job of the court to decide particular cases.

Again, it is the obligation of the courts to decide particular cases. The courts sometimes have to address that sort of question.

And if it's presented in a case, it's unavoidable.

It has precedent on precedents. It has cases talking about when you should revisit prior precedents and when you shouldn't. Those precedents become part of the rule of law that the judge must apply.

If the bases of the precedent have been eroded -- in other words, if the court decides a cases saying, Because of these three precedents, we reach this result, and in the intervening years, two of those are overruled -- that's another basis for reconsidering the precedent. Again, the court's decisions in cases like Casey and Dickerson, Payne v. Tennessee, Agostini, State Oil Company v. Khan, it's an issue that comes up on a regular basis and the court has developed a body of law that would guide judges and justices when they decide whether to revisit a case.

Well, again, you would start the precedent of the court on that decision. Nobody would apply that approach. In other areas, the court's precedents dictate the approach. The issue was in the Grove City case, the court had said that receipt of financial aid by students triggered coverage under the civil rights statutes limited to the admissions office, the admissions policies.

Some in the Congress wanted to amend the Voting Rights Act, Section 2, to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in Mobile against Bolden.

Biden - baseball, baseball baseball, Ginsburg, Ginsburg, Ginsburg; and now my Sam Kinison impression, SAY IT AH AH AHHHHHH SAY IT:
Hey, Judge, how are you?

Rule two defines the strike zone. As you pointed out, some places of the Constitution defines the strike zone. The strike zone is set out. What's unreasonable?

Every justice has to infer.

I notice Ginsburg is quoted. I'm quoted all the time about Ginsburg: Judge, you don't have to answer that question.

Now, you have already said to the chairman that you agree that there's a right to privacy. And you said the Supreme Court found such a right in part in the Fourteenth amendment. Do you think there's a liberty right of privacy that extends to women in the Constitution?

Let me quote her. Let's see if you can talk about them.

Do you agree with his statement?

Not my question, Judge.

Justice Ginsburg answered the question. Ginsburg rule: What do you think? You're not applying the Ginsburg rule.

Justice Ginsburg violated that rule, according to you. Justice Ginsburg said precisely what position she agreed on.

Did she, in fact, somehow compromise herself when she answered that question?

Oh, Judge...

Did Justice Ginsburg give a hint when she answered... on the specific question?

I don't have time, because we don't have as much time, but I could list you a half an hour the questions she answered, the questions Kennedy, Souter -- all of the justices almost, with one exception, answered specific questions which you're not answers.

Let me ask you a question then, Judge. My time's running out. I understand the answer.

The Supreme Court has three levels of scrutiny. Next question. You said: Look, we were arguing that it did apply, Title IX did apply. If a student got aid, it applied to the university.

What was your position on Reagan's civil rights chairman, Clarence Pendleton, suggesting that we appeal the decision of the circuit court, narrowly applying it only to the admissions office?

Only to the office, right? It applies narrowly?

You said you, quote, strongly agreed.

Number two, you went on to say, and I quote, that if you have the broad interpretation, quote, the federal government will be rummaging, quote, willy-nilly through institutions. Thanks, Judge.

Roberts - talk to the hand, analogy boy:
I do, Senator. Justice O'Connor took the same position. Senator, my answer is that the independence and integrity of the Supreme Court requires that nominees before this committee for a position on that court not forecast, give predictions, give hints about how they might rule in cases that might... come before the court.

Obviously, issues of overlap as well.

Of course gender discrimination is a serious problem. The discrimination on the basis of gender, distinctions on the basis of gender, is subject to what the Supreme Court has called intermediate scrutiny. Referring to what you called strict scrutiny.

Strict scrutiny is the...And, Senator, the memorandum is using heightened scrutiny the way you use strict scrutiny, which is scrutiny that's limited to the basis of race.

Senator, I was a staff lawyer. The Supreme Court concluded that it was a correct reading of the law.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Shrinking the Roberts' hearings

MS Word is the software product most likely to give me an anueryism; however, it does have at least one entertaining feature - Autosummarize. Notice I said entertaining, not useful. Here’s how Microsoft describes it:

AutoSummarize determines key points by analyzing the document and assigning a score to each sentence. Sentences that contain words used frequently in the document are given a higher score. You then choose a percentage of the highest-scoring sentences to display in the summary.

The lower the percentage you select, the lower the coherency you’ll get back. So I’ve taken the opening statements for Judge John Roberts and summarized each to 10% of the original.

I’ve used the transcripts published by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as provided by CQ Transcriptions, LLC.

Click to see how each senator survived the shrinking.

Opening statement - Roberts

Using MS Word to summarize Roberts' opening statement:
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Senator Leahy, and members of the committee.
Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them.

The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. It is that rule of law that protects the rights and liberties of all Americans. Because without the rule of law, any rights are meaningless.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, members of the committee.

Statements from Lugar, Bayh, Warner

Lugar, Bayh, Warner introduced Roberts. I've combined, then summarized their statements:
I'm pleased to introduce the president's nominee to serve as the 109th justice of the Supreme Court and the 17th chief justice of the United States, John D. Roberts Jr.

Judge Roberts was born in Buffalo, New York, but moved at age 8 to Indiana. Today's Supreme Court regularly faces issues of enormous public import and attendant controversy. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and all members of the committee for your courtesy in allowing me to introduce Judge John G. Roberts Jr., a distinguished son of Indiana, whom I believe will prove to be an outstanding chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.

John Roberts grew up in northwest Indiana and still has family living in our state. At only 50, Judge Roberts has had a distinguished legal career that would make most lawyers envious. Most lawyers are lucky to argue and win one case before our nation's highest court.

If confirmed as chief justice of the Supreme Court, Judge Roberts could serve for 30 or more years. Mr. Chairman, Senator Leahy, my colleagues, I am pleased to introduce to you a fellow Hoosier, Judge John Roberts.

Recently, 14 senators, of which I was one, committed ourselves in writing to support the Senate leadership in facilitating the Senate's responsibility of providing advice and consent.

Judge Roberts, I'm the last.

Opening statement - Coburn

Using MS Word to summarize Coburn's opening statement:
Essentially the court will not become an activist court if it adheres to its appropriate role and does not attempt to legislate or create policy.

Decades of judicial activism have created these huge rifts in the social fabric of our country.

The problems before our country are enormous. Our family structures have declined. America is an idea; it's not competing ideologies. Our founders were concerned that, if our rights derived from the state or a court, they can be taken away by a state or a court.

I want one America.

Opening statement - Brownback

Using MS Word to summarize Brownback's opening statement:
I welcome you to the court. One of the statements was that we need a more modest court. We need a more modest court, a court that's a court but not a super-legislature, as you've heard others refer to, or is in a different role, but is a court.

In our system of government, the Constitution contemplates that federal courts will exercise limited jurisdiction. If you're confirmed, your court will decide if there is a constitutional right to partially deliver a late-term child and then destroy it. Partial-birth abortion is making its way to the Supreme Court. The federal courts have thus far found laws limiting partial-birth abortion unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court frequently has overruled prior precedents, I would note. The Supreme Court has boundaries, too. For instance, the court cannot appropriate money.

Opening statement - Durbin

Using MS Word to summarize Durbin's opening statement:
Judge Roberts, if you're confirmed, you will be the first Supreme Court justice in the 21st century. Judge Frank Johnson was denounced as a judicial activist and threatened with impeachment.

He had the courage to expand freedom in America.

So it's important for you at this hearing to answer the questions and to tell us your views on civil rights and equality and the role of courts in protecting these basic freedoms.

The Supreme Court has always been the guardian of our Constitution. That challenge will fall especially on our Supreme Court and on you, Judge Roberts, if you're confirmed.

Your position as Supreme Court justice, chief justice, gives you extraordinary power: to appoint 11 judges on the FISA court, which has the authority to issue warrants for searches and wiretaps of American citizens, all the way to the establishment of rules of criminal and civil procedure.

No one has the right to sit on that court. No one has the right to be chief justice.

Opening statement - Cornyn

Using MS Word to summarize Cornyn's opening statement:
A majority of the court refused to agree that the pledge was constitutional, leaving this time-honored tradition of schoolchildren across our nation in legal limbo.

When in 2003 the court decided Lawrence v. Texas, the court overruled a 1986 decision on the constitutionality of state laws based on the collective moral judgment of those states about permissible sexual activity.

Did the Constitution change? Did the justices change? You have no obligation to tell us how you will rule on any issue that might come before you if you're confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Justice Ginsburg, as we've heard already, one of the last Supreme Court justices confirmed by the Senate, noted not too long ago, In accord with long-standing norm, every member of the current Supreme Court declined to furnish such information.

Opening statement - Schumer

Using MS Word to summarize Schumer's opening statement:
Fundamental to that responsibility is our obligation to ascertain your legal philosophy and judicial ideology.

A simple resume, no matter how distinguished, cannot answer that question.
I have no doubt that Justice Scalia thinks he is a fair judge and that Justice Ginsburg thinks she is a fair judge.

But in case after case, they rule differently. Some have argued that questioning a nominee about his or her personal views of the Constitution or about decided cases indicates prejudgment about a future case.

Most nominees who have come before us, including Justice Ginsburg, whose precedents you often cite, have answered such questions.

First, you need to answer questions fully so we can ascertain your judicial philosophy.

Judge Roberts, if you answer important questions forthrightly and convince me you're a jurist in the broad mainstream, I'll be able to vote for you.

Opening statement - Graham

Using MS Word to summarize Graham's opening statement:
I respectfully disagree with Senator Kennedy. To me, the central issue before the Senate is whether or not the Senate will allow President Bush to fulfill his campaign promise to appoint a well- qualified, strict constructionist to the Supreme Court and, in this case, to appoint a chief justice to the Supreme Court in the mold of Justice Rehnquist.

Elections matter.

We're not here to talk about liberal philosophy versus conservative philosophy and what's best for the country. The memos you wrote while you were working for President Reagan and Bush 1, in my opinion, reflect a conservative lawyer advising a conservative president about conservative policies.

There's plenty of blame to go around, Judge Roberts. What is the standard for a senator to confirm a Supreme Court nominee? The president won. If we were to make our votes, base our votes on that one principle, Justice Ginsburg would not be Justice Ginsburg. The law, Judge Roberts, to me, represents a quiet place in American discourse.

Opening statement - Feingold

Using MS Word to summarize Feingold's opening statement:
It is a Senate Judiciary Committee's job to ask tough questions. Obviously, nominees to the Supreme Court must be subject to the highest level of scrutiny. It is not undignified to ask questions that press the nominee for his views on the important areas of the law that the Supreme Court confronts.

Many court-watchers have become pretty good at predicting the outcome of cases.

I don't think, however, that the public is required to wait until a new chief justice is seated on the court to get some idea of how that new chief justice thinks, how that new chief justice will approach controversial issues that might come before the court and how that new chief justice also might run the court.

In some ways, Mr. Chairman, the record of our current nominee to the court raises similar questions. The administration has done this nominee no service by maintaining its intransigent position.

Opening statement - Sessions

Using MS Word to summarize Sessions' opening statement:
Frankly -- but activism by a growing number of judges threatens our judiciary. Who the judge is and whose side the judge is on, not the law and the facts, will determine the outcome of a case.

This result-driven philosophy of activism does not respect law. Judges are thus encouraged to liberally interpret the words to reach the results a judge believes is correct. Activist Supreme Court judges have done this in recent years by saying they are interpreting the plain words of the Constitution in light of evolving standards of decency. We must never abandon our ideal of unbiased judges, judges who rule fairly without regard to politics.

Our nation cries out for judges who love the law and who work every day to uphold its moral authority. The people rightly demand judges who follow, not make law.

Opening statement - Feinstein

Using MS Word to summarize Feinstein's opening statement:
If you, Judge Roberts, subscribe the Rehnquist court's restrictive interpretation of Congress's ability to legislate, the impact could be enormous. Like any population, women enjoy diverse opinions, beliefs, political affiliations, priorities and values. It actually wasn't until 1839 that a woman could own property separate from her husband, when Mississippi passed the Married Women's Property Act.

The American Bar Association was founded in 1876, but it barred women and did not admit them until 1918. I knew a young woman who killed herself because she was pregnant.

And in the 1960s then, as a member of the California Women's Board of Terms and Parole, when California had what was called the indeterminant sentence law, I actually sentenced women who committed abortions to prison terms. A week ago, I was walking up the Danube River in Budapest when I saw on the shore 60 pair of shoes covered in copper -- women's shoes, men's shoes, small tiny children's shoes.

Opening statement - DeWine

Using MS Word to summarize DeWine's opening statement:
That document, of course, is our Constitution.

Former Chief Justice John Marshall once warned that, and I quote,

People made the Constitution and people can unmake it. As of late, however, many Americans believe that the Supreme Court is unmaking the very Constitution that our founders drafted.

Judges are not members of Congress. Justice White said the role of the United States Supreme Court was simply to decide cases -- to decide cases. The Constitution does not give us all the answers. Judge Roberts, causes come and go, but cases do not.

The career of Chief Justice Rehnquist certainly proves this point. Judge Roberts, as you know, those words are yours. You, sir, have the talent, experience, and humility to be an outstanding member of the United States Supreme Court.

Opening statement - Kohl

Using MS Word to summarize Kohl's opening statement:
In the hands of the Supreme Court, the Constitution has established a right to equal education regardless of race. It has allowed women to keep private medical decisions private. The court even has power over which constitutional questions it will hear and which cases the court will decide.

People in high places of public trust in this country have a responsibility to share their thoughts about important issues like civil rights, privacy, property rights, separation of church and state, civil liberties and much more.

The Supreme Court's decisions may be most important when they address the breadth of our civil rights. Judge Roberts, if confirmed, we can expect that you will serve 25 to 30 years as chief justice of the United States. In judging this and other Supreme Court nominations my test has been judicial excellence.

A Supreme Court justice must understand this.

Opening statement - Kyl

Using MS Word to summarize Kyl's opening statement:
Limits on the questioning of judicial nominees are reflected even in the questionnaire that this committee submits to nominees. Let me quote the rule: Has anyone -- or the question, rather:

Now, Judge Roberts answered in the negative to that question, and I think it would be ironic indeed if the committee were now to demand that the nominee take stands on questions that may come before him as a member of the court.

Now, not only would it violate this committee's standards and procedures for a nominee to answer questions about issues that may come before him as a judge, it would also be unethical for the nominee to answer such questions.

Well, the code of judicial ethics draws no such distinctions.

Opening Statement - Biden

Using MS Word to summarize Biden's opening statement:
Judge, as you know, there's a genuine intellectual debate going on in our country today over whether the Constitution is going to continue to expand the protections of the right to privacy, continue to empower the federal government to protect the powerless.

For 70 years, there's been a consensus, Judge, on our Supreme Court on these issues of privacy and protecting the powerless. In 1967 the Constitution defended the right of a black woman to marry a white man.

Our constitutional journey did not stop then and it must not stop now, Judge. Judge, that's why this is a critical moment. Like most Americans, I believe the Constitution recognizes a general right to privacy.

You dismissed the constitutional protection of privacy as, quote, a so-called right. The Constitution provides for one democratic moment, Judge -- one democratic moment -- before a lifetime of judicial independence.

Opening statement - Grassley

Using MS Word to summarize Grassley's opening statement:
I think it's fitting that you have been nominated to replace a mentor of yours, Chief Justice Rehnquist. There are a number of qualities that I look for in a Supreme Court nominee. Why is it, then, so important to have Supreme Court justices practice judicial restraint? We want Supreme Court justices to exercise judicial restraint so that cases will be decided solely on the law and the principles set forth in the Constitution, and not upon an individual justice's personal philosophical views or preferences.

During my tenure in the Senate, I participated in a number of these Supreme Court nomination hearings, and I believe it's nine to date. Well, the chief justice has been described as first among equals.

Opening statement - Kennedy

Using MS Word to summarize Kennedy's opening statement:
Americans have shed blood, campaigned and marched. We need the ingenuity and innovation and commitment of every American.

Every citizen counts. We also are a government of the people in which citizens have a strong voice in the great issues that shape our lives.

We expect Supreme Court justices to uphold those rights and the rule of times in both war and peace. Judge Roberts, you are an intelligent, well-educated and serious man. The Senate was not intended to be a rubber stamp for a president's nominees to the Supreme Court. This hearing is John Roberts' job interview with the American people.

In particular, we need to know his views on civil rights, voting rights and the right to privacy, especially the removal of existing barriers to full and fair lives for women, minorities and the disabled.

Long-established rights to privacy are under heavy siege.

Opening statement - Hatch

Using Ms Word to summarize hatch's opening statement:

First, what judges do limits what judicial nominees may discuss. Judges must be impartial and independent. In 1993, President Clinton's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, explained better than I can why nominees cannot answer such questions no matter how they're framed.

Judges, not senators, take the oath of judicial office. Judges, not senators, are bound by the canons of judicial ethics.

Judge Roberts will be a federal judge for many years to come. Different nominees may draw this line a little differently, but they draw the same kind of line protecting their judicial impartiality and independence.

Justice Stephen Breyer drew that line in 1994. Justice Anthony Kennedy drew that line in 1987. Justice Kennedy drew his line, yet we confirmed him by a vote of 97-0.
Justice Ginsburg drew her line, yet we confirmed her by a vote of 96-3.

We must use the judicial rather than a political standard to evaluate Judge Roberts' fitness for the Supreme Court.

Opening statement - Leahy

Using MS Word to summarize Leahy's statement:

It's a framework for our government, the foundation of all our rights and liberties. We understand the importance of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Constitution: We the people.

When the Constitution was written, though, We the people did not include Native Americans, or African-American slaves, but only free people.

I've long been a proponent of First Amendment freedoms and open government, because the public's right to know what our government is doing promotes accountability.
Federal judges aren't elected, they serve for life if they're confirmed. This hearing is about the fundamental right of all Americans.

Ours is a government of laws. The balance and the direction of the Supreme Court now at issue with two vacancies, both Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Now there's only 100 Americans standing in the shoes of all other Americans.

Opening statement - Specter

Using MS Word to summarize Specter's opening statement:
Beyond your potential voice for change and consensus, your vote will be critical on many, many key issues, such as congressional power, presidential authority, civil rights, including voting rights and affirmative action, defendants' rights, prayer, many decisions for the future and perhaps institutional changes in the court looking for the day when the court may be televised.

This hearing comes at a time of turbulent partisanship in the United States Senate -- turbulent partisanship. We have confirmed contentious circuit court nominees. When the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a portion of the legislation to protect women against violence, the court did so because of our, quote, method of reasoning, close quote. The court said that that was constitutional.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Like talking Pope Benedict into presiding at a Satanist orgy

Microsoft recruiter tries to offer Eric S. Raymond a job. He politely declines:
If you had bothered to do five seconds of background checking, you might have discovered that I am the guy who responded to Craig Mundie’s “Who are you?” with “I’m your worst nightmare”, and that I’ve in fact been something pretty close to your company’s worst nightmare since about 1997.


On the day *I* go to work for Microsoft, faint oinking sounds will be heard from far overhead, the moon will not merely turn blue but develop polkadots, and hell will freeze over so solid the brimstone will go superconductive.

Wendy's finger lady is guilty

Anna Ayala, 39, and Jaime Placencia, 43, pleaded guilty to conspiring to file a false claim and attempted grand theft. The Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's International Inc. claimed the scheme cost it $2.5 million in lost sales because of bad publicity.

Ayala faces up to nearly 10 years in state prison when sentenced November 2. Her husband faces up to 13 years behind bars.


Ayala claimed to have found the fingertip March 22 while eating chili with her family at a Wendy's in San Jose, California. Authorities said they suspected it was a hoax, but the story of quickly circled the globe and became fodder for late-night comedy.

A search for the finger's owner eventually led to one of Placencia's co-workers, who lost it in an industrial accident in Las Vegas, Nevada, police said.


Ayala was arrested in April in her suburban Las Vegas home and accused of trying to shake down Wendy's by filing a claim against the restaurant chain.

She later withdrew the claim as scrutiny of her find grew. Investigators found that she had filed numerous legal claims against businesses in her name or for her children.

The franchise where the finger claim was made saw an immediate 60 percent to 70 percent drop in business.... Dozens of employees at the company's Northern California franchises were laid off. The Associated Press.

Poppy reviews MREs

to update, Poppy Z. Brite and husband evacuated New Orleans and headed to Mississippi. They survived the storm, but are still without power.
She reviews last night's dinner.
No power yet, so tonight we dined by candlelight on MREs donated to us courtesy of (I assume) Your Tax Dollars. The heat source is very complicated and scary to activate. Then you have to stuff the whole thing back in its carton and prop it on a rock or something (the diagram actually has a rock labeled ROCK OR SOMETHING). Once your meal is cooked, it is full of cunning little details and not actually all that bad. My mother selected Chicken with Noodles and Vegetables, which was sploogy and comforting in the manner of a casserole your mom might have cooked in the '70s, but with no chow mein noodles or crushed potato chips on top. I opted for Beef Enchiladas with Sauce, which were quite zippy, though they didn't resemble enchiladas so much as a sort of thin, pliant crepe rolled over and over on itself with a thin layer of ground beef inside. My enchiladas were accompanied by a Cheez Whiz-like spread with jalapenos, a packet of refried beans, a packet of (sorely needed) picante sauce, a Creamsicle Cookie which actually tasted just like a Creamsicle (at least, the half I didn't drop on the floor while removing it from the package did; the dogs appeared to enjoy the other half), and a pair of Tootsie Rolls, which I like but did not eat for fear of losing a filling, and I don't know if the dentists here prescribe as freely as mine in New Orleans. Also included in the packets were Tabasco, powdered drink mixes, salt, salt-free salt, pepper, sugar, instant coffee, moist towelettes, matches, gum, and (no doubt usefully, but still a little ominously) fast-dissolving toilet paper.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Who wrote the Banana Boat song?

I always thought the Banana Boat Song was written by Harry Belafonte. In fact, most references credit him as the writer. However, a few months back I came across some startling information in a book about the history of the Second City theater company. As part of a bio of an early cast member, Alan Arkin, is the following:
Alan Arkin, before doing The Compass in St. Louis, and then The Second City in Chicago, had been part of a singing group called The Tarriers, for whom he cowrote "The Banana Boat Song", which was later sold to and popularized by Harry Belafonte. Alan eventually quit the group, no longer wanting to be standing in a spotlight wearing silk pants singing made-up folk songs.

Really? Now there's a stomper of a trivia question to pull out. But can it be verified? On this Kinks website - they recorded a version on the "Everybody's in Show-biz" album - the written by credits go to Darling/Carey/Arkin. Those are the member of The Tarriers.

Erik Darling, of The Tarriers, has a website and writes:
A manager by the name of Art D’Lugoff got us a last-ditch audition for a hole-in-the wall company called Glory Records. It made no difference how small Glory was or where they were located. Somebody, finally, wanted to record us and put out a single!

Glory Records gave us a hit, “The Banana Boat Song." Our version of the song was performed on the Hit Parade TV show for eight weeks. Without intending to, we had started the Calypso craze. We were not even singing Calypso--“The Banana Boat Song” was a Jamaican folk song and most of our material was North American folk music--but the music industry needed to label what we were doing. Every time we appeared on a TV show, the set was palm trees and bananas, or pilings, barrels and docks, or all five. We were covered by Capital Record’s version of the same song, “Day-O," by Harry Belafonte. With Capital’s power, as well as Belafonte’s ability to dramatize songs and perform, it is Belafonte’s version of the song that is remembered to this day. I sing the original version that started the craze on the Child, Child CD.

Now that confuses the story. According to this, Arkin wasn't a cowriter and The Tarriers were just given a song to sing. What other sources of confusion can I find?

The Alan Arkin wiki page doesn't mention it, but it once did as seen in this google cache. Checking the Harry Belafonte wiki, Arkin is credited for the composition.

Following a link to Folkera, we find this in the Tarriers bio:
Rose agreed to let the three Tarriers record on their own, and booked a Manhattan studio in late fall 1956 to produce a single. The highlight of the session was "The Banana Boat Song," a fusion of two Jamaican folk songs that Darling first heard Bob Gibson perform in Washington Square. Released in November 1956, it became Glory Records' second national hit, rising to No. 4 on the Billboard pop chart. Again, RCA Victor quickly capitalized on that success, belatedly releasing a single of "Day-O" from Harry Belafonte's best-selling Calypso album.

Hmmm. this puts it back as an existing song, and The Tarriers were just the first to capitalize on it.

But wait, there's more. Harry Belafonte wasn't the only one trying to follow the success of The Tarriers; Shirley Bassey also release a version:
In late 1956, a chart race ensued amongst the different versions of "Banana Boat Song". In the UK and America, it was Belafonte who did best. Shirley did well, though, to also reach the top 10 with her version of the song, making it her first top 10 hit in Britain. The only thing in common with Shirley and Harry's versions seems to be the "day-o" chorus. Her version is closer, lyrically, to the version by US band the Tarriers and it is theirs which hers was clearly based on. Their version peaked at #15 in the UK and #6 in the US. Other charting versions in the US on the pop charts were by Sarah Vaughan, Fontane Sisters and Steve Lawrence.

Erik Darling, Bob Carey and Alan Arkin formed the Tarriers, who wrote Shirley's version of Banana Boat Song.... When they were allowed to record on their own, "Banana Boat Song" was a highlight of their first recording session. It was a mix of two Jamaican folk songs that Darling had heard performed in Washington Square.

Looks like we're getting closer to the truth. Neither Arkin or Belafonte is the author of the "Banana Boat Song." It's a traditional song and the most we can say is that the same song has a number of arrangements. What does Calypso world have to say?
The song was first recorded in England around 1954 by Trinidadian vocalist and actor Edric Connor. Connor called it "Day Dah Light (Banana Loaders Song)" and included it on an album of Jamaican folksongs that was not widely distributed. In 1956 two new arrangements of the song were recorded independently by Caribbean-American singer Harry Belafonte and the Tarriers, an American group that interpreted folksongs. Belafonte's version, adapted by songwriter Irving Burgie, was titled "Day-O" and was released both as a single and on his Calypso album. The Tarriers heard the song from another interpreter of folk music, Bob Gibson, who had traveled to Jamaica. Their version, called "The Banana Boat Song," is actually a medley with another Jamaican folksong: "Hill and Gully Rider." Both the Tarriers and the Belafonte versions of the song shot to the top of the pop music charts in early 1957.

Great, now I have to track down Edric Connor. In 1952, he released Songs From Jamaica. One of the songs is "Day De Light." Has the liner notes say, this is a banana-wharf song, sung by carriers who sometimes work through the night loading the ships with bananas. There is a clip of the song on that page; however, it's in Real Audio and I'm not downloading that. What's wrong with mp3s? Mr. Connor also had a bit of a film career, including a role in "Moby Dick."

Here's a site I should link to: The Originals. And he tracks what I've pretty much uncovered about the Banana Loader's Song. To recap:
  • It's a traditional song, wih no knownn author
  • 1952 - First known recording by Edric Connor
  • 1956 - The Tarriers release their version
  • 1956 - In response, the Harry Belafonte version is released.
  • Then everyone starts recording it. While Shirley Bassey followed The Tarriers arrangement, most everyone else does the Belafonte version.

While I can't fin the audio for The Tarriers version, here are their lyrics:
Hill and gully rider, hill and gully (4 times).
CHORUS: Day-O, day-o - day-li-light and I wan' go home (repeat).

1. Well, I'm loadin' de banana boat all night long -
day-li-lght and I wan' go home. Hey!
All-a de workman sing this song -
day-li-light and I wan' go home. CHO:

2. Now I sleep by sun an' I work by moon -
day-li-light an' I wan' go home.
When I get some money gonna quit so soon -
day-li-light and I wan' go home. CHO:

3. Well, I'll pack up all my t'ings an' I'll go to sea -
day-li-light an' I wan' go home.
Den de bananas see de last of me -
day-li-light an' I wan' go home, CHO:

Hill and gully rider, hill and gully (3 times).

There you go. I've pretty much sucked this topic dry.