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Monday, July 25, 2005

TALK ABOUT A PUPPET POLL 

King notes that Karl Marx won the BBC's poll of the World's Greatest Philosophers and passes on speculation as to why.

Since the definitive collection of Great Philosophers
lacks Marx, I'm guessing the BBC ballot boxes were stuffed and the poll should be disregarded.

I won't believe it until I see the puppet proof.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

TECHNOLOGY DOES SPAWN NEW IDIOMS 

The kids were playing "doggies" (the four year old pretends to be the eight year old's disobedient pet) when I told the eight year old I needed to tie back her hair for swim lessons later that morning.

"Pause the game!" she commanded her sister.

Friday, July 22, 2005

IS THERE NEWS ON MOUNT EVEREST? 

No time to post, no time to read. I'm obsessed with making lists and obtaining provisions from Target and the grocery store. All because I'm preparing to get out of town on our annual go East and display the children to my family outing. With two smallish kids to transport I feel like I'm preparing to climb Mount Everest.

Through some kind of osmosis process I've gathered there have been a few dud bombs in the London transport and that if President Bush nominated Hilary Clinton for the Supreme Court she'd be attacked by the far left as too conservative:
"He [Roberts] is a stealth candidate without a substantial public record," said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. "He is strongly embraced by the ultra-right, which suggests they know something about his views on important issues that is not apparent to the public at large."
(from "Scrambling to Fight 'Brilliant'", The Wall Street Journal at A4, July 22, 2005).

Sunday, July 17, 2005

DEMENTEE WILL JUST HAVE TO EAT ME SOME OTHER TIME 

Re Learned Foot's analysis of the statute that Karl Rove is alleged to have violated: agreed. Based on what we know so far, it seems impossible to prove scienter, and scienter is key. My post wasn't intended to suggest that the "any information" clause was more pivotal than the scienter ones (infelicitous, hatched-after-midnight headline to the contrary notwithstanding), only that the statute doesn't actually require that the source of the information the discloser discloses be classified material, which seems weird at first glance but maybe not so weird upon further reflection. I hadn't seen--and still haven't seen--anyone else make this point, and I have seen others wrongly assert the opposite. For instance, in a post published a few hours before mine, Power Line's Scott Johnson said that "It appears highly likely that another element of an offense under the IIPA may be lacking as to Rove -- knowledge of the CIA officer's identity from classified information." And let me tell you, I am shocked, shocked that Mr. Johnson--who is typically among the most faithful of our millions of readers and who habitually (and quite undignifiedly; show some self-respect, Scott!) rushes to grab a seat next to ours when we get the briefings from the Right Wing Noise Machine and Daisy Chain, Inc. in the basement of the Governor's Mansion--hasn't hastened to correct his inaccuracy in the wake of my pathbreaking and incisive legal analysis.

Friday, July 15, 2005

IT DEPENDS ON WHAT THE MEANING OF "ANY" IS 

There's a curious aspect of the criminal statute (50 U.S.C. § 421) at issue in the Wilson/Plame/Rove affair that I haven't seen discussed. Operative text (emphasis mine):
(a) Disclosure of information by persons having or having had access to classified information that identifies covert agent

Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under Title 18 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
That "any" is significant. The defendant must have had authorized access to classified information identifying a covert agent, and the defendant must have disclosed information identifying the agent, but nowhere does the statute say that the access has to be the source of the disclosed information. At first glance this lack of linkage between the access and the disclosure seems peculiar. Then again, perhaps it isn't so odd. You can think of the statute as creating a heightened standard of care for those with access to classified information. It tells them that such access carries with it an extra responsibility to be circumspect, above and beyond the simple obligation not to reveal (for instance) the contents of a classified memo.

Moreover, that little word "any" seems to be in play in Rove's situation. Although he presumably has some sort of security clearance, it seems unlikely that whatever he told Matt Cooper (or Judith Miller, or anybody else) about Plame actually came from a classified document that he personally read. In fact, it's possible that he learned about Plame from other reporters. No matter--that doesn't get him off the hook.

Of course, as many have noted, this is a pro-defendant statute for other reasons, chiefly the rigorous knowledge and intent requirements. But in this one respect, the statute favors the prosecution.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

BLOW YOUR MIND 

A new study reveals that 16% of studies are contradicted by other studies:
Subsequent research contradicted results of seven studies -- 16 percent -- and reported weaker results for seven others, an additional 16 percent. That means nearly one-third of the original results did not hold up, according to the study in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.
No word on whether the study that produced this stunning finding is one of the to-be-contradicted 16%. Or even the to-be-weakened 16%.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Monday, July 11, 2005

BASEBALL TALES 

I like this one:
Once upon a time, the great god Zeus ordered the Hephaestus the craftsman to make the world's first woman. Hepaestus made Pandora, a lovely creation in the image of Aphrodite. The other gods gave Pandora gifts—Athena granted her life and a fab wardrobe, Aphrodite a beautiful smile and some bling, and Zeus gave her curiosity and a strange sealed jar which he warned her never to open. Then Zeus sent her down to earth to live among baseball players. Unable to control said curiosity, Pandora opened the jar and out swarmed terrible beasts named E-4, KL, GIDPwRISP, and Frank Thomas. As a curse from Zeus to humanity, poor Pandora had let out all the world's sucking. In penance, she spent the rest of her days as a Cubs fan.
But if you don't, Batgirl has two other Theories on the Origins of Sucking for you to choose from.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

IT'S A START ... 

The four year old is a master of slapstick. Anything that evokes a laugh from anyone will be repeated until everyone stops laughing and starts being annoyed. But the eight year old has been rather late to the humor world, complaining bitterly if anyone laughs at any thing she says or does.

Until this afternoon, that is. She has a friend over to play and ended up officiating at the marriage of two dog beanie toys: "Pluffy Mint" (not a typo) and "Puppy." At the finale, she solemnly intoned "you may now lick the bride!"

When we laughed, she looked rather pleased with herself, then explained to us morons "that's what dogs do, you know.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

HEAR! HEAR! 

From The London News Review:
A Letter To The Terrorists, From London

What the fuck do you think you're doing?

This is London. We've dealt with your sort before. You don't try and pull this on us.

Do you have any idea how many times our city has been attacked? Whatever you're trying to do, it's not going to work.

All you've done is end some of our lives, and ruin some more. How is that going to help you? You don't get rewarded for this kind of crap.

And if, as your MO indicates, you're an al-Qaeda group, then you're out of your tiny minds.

Because if this is a message to Tony Blair, we've got news for you. We don't much like our government ourselves, or what they do in our name. But, listen very clearly. We'll deal with that ourselves. We're London, and we've got our own way of doing things, and it doesn't involve tossing bombs around where innocent people are going about their lives.

And that's because we're better than you. Everyone is better than you. Our city works. We rather like it. And we're going to go about our lives. We're going to take care of the lives you ruined. And then we're going to work. And we're going down the pub.

So you can pack up your bombs, put them in your arseholes, and get the fuck out of our city.
(Via No Rock and Roll Fun)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

YOU BETCHA 

Uh oh. We've been discovered:
NEW YORK—A U.S. Geological Survey expeditionary force announced Tuesday that it has discovered a previously unknown and unexplored land mass between the New York and California coasts known as the "Midwest."
But it looks like Frater Chad got it wrong; we don't need to worry too much about a mass migration to the heartland:
"Believe it or not, this region may have things to offer us," said Jonathan Ogleby, a San Francisco-area marketing expert. "We could construct an airport there, a place where New Yorkers could switch planes on their way to California. We could stage revivals of old Broadway musicals there. Perhaps we could even one day conduct trade with the Midwesterners, offering them electronic devices in exchange for meats and agriculture."

Others, however, are not so optimistic about future relations. "We must remember that these people are not at all like us," Conde Nast publisher and Manhattan socialite Lucille Randolph Snowdon said. "They are crude and provincial, bewildered by our tall buildings and our art galleries, our books and our coffee shops. For an L.A. resident to attempt to interact with one of them as he or she would with, say, a Bostonian is ludicrous. It appears unlikely that we will ever be able to conduct a genuine exchange of ideas with them about anything, save perhaps television or 'the big game.'"
But I am a bit concerned about those old Broadway musicals...

Monday, July 04, 2005

AN INDEPENDENCE DAY QUIZ (OR, BASINGSTOKE IN WESTPHALIA?) 

In commemoration of the Fourth of July, I was reading the Declaration of Independence this morning, and it suddenly struck me how many naughty bits that hallowed document has. To see this, consider the sixteen phrases I've laid out below. All were written or adopted by a cheeky band of British subjects. Half come from the Declaration, half from a classic Monty Python skit. Can you guess which is which? (I've arranged the phrases in alphabetical order and tinkered a bit with punctuation and capitalization in a few cases to avoid tipping either hand. Answers in the Comments.)
(a). all ages, sexes, and conditions
(b). bag of dainties
(c). burned down by Cromwell's cavalry
(d). eat out
(e). excited domestic
(f). fall themselves by their hands
(g). hold them
(h). large bodies
(i). manly firmness
(j). merciless Indian savages
(k). military equipment
(l). mutton, beef, and trout
(m). oblige them
(n). small red strawberry marks upon their thighs
(o). special pair of gaiters
(p). violence perpetrated by one community upon another

SHUTDOWN MANIA 

The drumbeat of the sky is falling the sky is falling (because of the state gov't shutdown) articles from the Star Tribune continues. Since they're running out of dire consequences to explore (you can only do so many stories on closed rest stops and driver's license bureaus before even the journalists start getting bored) they decided to scrape the bottom of the barrel and quote the blogs to support this front page article's theme:

Embarrassing. Shocking. Outrageous.

Those were just a few of the printable adjectives used by bloggers, newspaper pundits and ordinary citizens to describe the first government shutdown in Minnesota's history.

And the support for these few printable adjectives?

  • First, a visit to the little known Powerline blog for this doozy: "[The Democrats'] strategy was to refuse to agree on a budget, hold out until there was no alternative to a shutdown, and then blame Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty."
  • Then, well-known media pundit Sisyphus at Nihilist in Golf Pants supplies two revealing explanations (out of the eleven offered) of why the Senate adjourned before a deal was reached: "legislating was cutting into their 'Real Life: Austin, Texas' viewing" and "depressed when they found out that despite the fact that they're senators, they won't be able to filibuster the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement."
  • Fecke of the Blog of the Moderate Left is quoted blaming Minnesota's voters for the shutdown ("It's our fault, folks. If we want government to function smoothly, we should've voted straight-ticket all the way.") The article omits the post's (entitled "Shut 'Er Down") next sentence: "Of course, I've never cared much about a smoothly functioning government; I don't worry about the shutdown. They'll pass a budget soon enough."
Hmm. No one seems that upset about the shutdown, much less embarassed, shocked or outraged. What is our intrepid journalist to do? I know! I know! Go to another journalist for the goods:
The [Grand Forks (N.D.)] Herald wrote that the shutdown turned " 'the state that works' into 'the state that flunked.' The shame and embarrassment should inspire Minnesotans to try something new. Because the status quo isn't making the grade.
Ahh! Much better.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

EIGHT MINUS FOUR EQUALS BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS. LOTS OF TEARS. 

The eight year old, being eight (and fairly well behaved PLUS she's potty trained), has a pretty active social life. She's over at a friend's house right now.

The four year old, being four (and cranky from having awoken too early due to this morning's big fat thunderstorm show), cried and wept and carried on that no one ever comes over to play with her! Ever!

It's kind of true and has something to do with the fact that the last time she had a little friend over they played barber shop on their hair. And no, I don't supervise my kids closely enough to catch barber shop games in the offing why do you ask?

But it's been a long time and my memory of the incident has faded so I gave in and called one of her friends with an invitation. No hair cutting allowed, I sternly cautioned her. She eagerly agreed (at that moment I had rock-solid bargaining power).

So the "play date" commenced. And yes it ended in tears, as these things often do. Why? The Barbies were put in a time out in the closet. A closet with bi-fold doors. Which should always be manipulated by the handles or there's likely to be a pinched hand. But they weren't and there was.

I consoled myself, after consoling her, that some things are best learned by experience. Each of my kids has fallen down some stairs. Once. Each has fallen out of bed. Once. I hopefully sense a pattern.

The only problem: the eight year old has never pinched her hand in a door. Yet.

Friday, July 01, 2005

WHAT IF THEY GAVE A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN AND NOBODY WENT? 

PDF file of "Services that will be discontinued during the state shutdown": less than half a page.

PDF file of "Services that are proposed to be open during state shutdown": over eight pages.