Friday, April 07, 2006

Bushit Update

Apparently the case against the woman with the Bushit sticker was thrown out.

And here's most likely why, according to the Volokh Conspiracy:

The police officer unfortunately didn't know that the state had a Supreme Court decision about lewd decals, too (though "profane decals" is probably the more sensible term here): Cunningham v. State, 400 S.E.2d 916 (1991), which struck down on First Amendment grounds an ordinance that banned affixing to a car "any sticker, decal, emblem, or other device containing profane or lewd words describing sexual acts, excretory functions, or parts of the human body." The Georgia Supreme Court in Cunningham quite sensibly held that Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971), which upheld Cohen's right to wear a jacket that said "Fuck the Draft," applied equally to bumper stickers; because of this, the court set aside a conviction for displaying a sticker that said "Shit Happens."
Seems to me that the DeKalb County Police Department owes someone an apology, at least.


What do you know....the First Amendment. Pretty fancy.

Justice

I understand the legal concept of insanity, but really, someone she sever HER arms.

Leak-Gate

I would also be remiss in filling in for The Honorable Codemorse III if I failed to mention the news of the day, the recent update in the CIA leak scandal.

For my part, I have never been interested in scandals of any kind, either those of my political allies or of my political opponents. There's something about the "he said," "she said," that just doesn't do it for me.

But to each their own, and I figured I would piggy-back on some assumed schadenfreude.

Bad Choices

In honor of Sir Codemorse the Brave's birthday, I've decided to make fun of myself, if only briefly, for a small mistake I made while in law school.

Some of you may have heard of the recent incident with Cynthia McKinney.

Cynthia McKinney is a Congresswoman from Georgia's 4th Congressional District. She has quite a history, most of which I will not mention here (for space considerations), but about a week ago she had a run-in with the Capitol Police.

Here's what we know: Members of Congress have to either wear a (special?) pin or show their badge in order to get into the Congressional building while bypassing security. Ms. McKinney attempted to bypass security without wearing her pin or showing her badge. A member of the Capitol Police asked her to stop. Three times. She failed to stop. The officer then either stepped in front of her or grabbed her (we don't know where). Ms. McKinney then punched the officer with her cell phone. She was later charged with simple assault.

In defending her actions, Ms. McKinney said that the officer's actions were motivated by race. In short, she was only stopped because she was black. In addition, through her attorneys, she claimed that she was inappropriately touched. There was no further clarification on how or where she was inappropriately touched. She appeared on numerous television shows complaining about how she was treated because in her words, the whole incident was "much ado about a hairdo." By which she explained, she had changed her hairstyle, and therefore the Capitol Police failed to recognize her.

Yesterday, she apologized, stating that the incident had gotten out of hand.

The simple assault charge was submitted to a Federal Grand Jury yesterday for an indictment.

If they return an indictment, it will likely be next week.

And here's the punchline. In law school, I voted for her. I actually voted for her.

But that was before she went loony, and lost the next election in part because she accused President Bush of knowing about the 9/11 attacks before they happened and allowing them to happen for his own personal gain.

But still, I gag when I think about it.

That one's for you, Codemorse.

They Say It's Your Birthday


Morning, all.

It's April 7th, and that means it's my birthday.

I used to look forward to the day (y'know, presents and all), but as I've added years without adding, say, Playboy Playmates, the experience has lost some of the initial appeal.

I'm trading NYC for DC for the weekend - spending the time with my lady and my best friend. That sounds pretty nice to me. As such, there'll be no posting from me today. I know, I know...

Once the french-style rioting quiets down you'll realize that you're in the perfectly capable hands of Jaba.

Getting older kind of sucks. But having friends and loved ones to get older with is pretty cool by me.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CODEMORSE!!!

May all of your birthdays be as awesome as this one is going to be.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Let Spring Begin

The Masters starts today.

I promised myself I would never watch golf. My parents (and grandparents) used to invite their friends over to watch it, and I was convinced that was the beginning of the end.

But that was before Tiger.

And Phil Mickelson's incredible run in 2004.

Enjoy, folk. Spring has arrived.

Rot in Hell, Moussaoui

I don't ruminate often about heaven and hell.

Primarily because I spend most of my time thinking about how I'm going to get home to feed the dog, or clean the sheets, or do the dishes, or do whatever my fiancee deems is appropriate.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I hope that there is a hell.

For people like this.

Little Chance Of Understanding The Response

From kare11.com:

College students make jokes about it, but it can, at times, be a problem. "It" is a college professor who doesn't clearly speak English.

State Representative Bud Heidgerken, R-Freeport, told the House Higher Education Committee Wednesday that it's no laughing matter.

"I've had numerous students talk to me about losing their financial aid because of this problem," remarked Heidgerken, "Numerous students talk to me they went an extra year to college to avoid a certain professor."

And while we expect college instructors to know their stuff, Heidgerken has another final exam in mind. As he put it, "To take a speak test, and only then, after they take a speak test, are they allowed to be in the classroom teaching."

Thank god they don't have a "speak test" for State Representative, though. Bud'd be outta luck. Is a "speak test" anything like a "speech" test?

Heidgerken's carrying a bill that would require instructors at public colleges and universities to speak English clearly. His bill, as originally drafted, would allow students who can't understand their professors to withdraw from a class, receive a tuition refund and have any record of the course expunged from their college transcript.

The bill in it's original form would call from a faculty members being removed from the classroom if at least 10% of the students complain that their speech is not comprehensible.

Among those who testified was James Malone, a student at Saint Cloud State.

"I attempted to take a required math course during my first semester, dropped the class after having difficulty understanding my professor," explained Malone.

He said the next semester he tried to take the same course, by picking a different instructor but encountered the same problem, "Asking questions in class or even out of class was pointless, as I had little chance of understanding the response."

Call me a cynical bastard....but I suspect that, with two separate Professors teaching the same material, Mr. Malone's difficulties probably had more to do with not understanding the math in his required course.

In fact, reading the article, I find myself sincerely and deeply doubting the seriousness of this problem - especially in Minnesota. What sort of "crazy" accents have they got up there in such high supply that you can't take a math course without needing an interpreter?

I enjoyed Russ Stanton's response to the parents.

Stanton suggested the Heidgerken's bill, if it became law, would allow any student failing a class to use the language barrier as an excuse to drop it without consequences.

And, he used a personal anecdote to suggest that the professor's "poor English" is often an excuse for poor performance.

"Last semester my daughter didn't get a very good grade in biology, and when I asked her, she said she had trouble understanding the professor," recalled Stanton.

"The only problem is, I know the professor - he served on my government relations committee - and I can understand him quite well."

Speaking as someone who was a college student, we're not above a little tomfoolery to get us out of classes or to excuse our responsibility.

The LINK At The End Of The Chain (If You Were Broken Away The Rest Would Remain)

Read an interview with the crew of Broken Lizard (SuperTroopers, Club Dread, the upcoming Beer Fest) right HERE.

(gay) Cowboys on ice!

Medical marijuana goes public.

More to be added throughout the day. Because I love you.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Colleges and Terrorists

First, the Yale Taliban.

Then, the Columbia teleconference with Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi.

What's next? Harvard has a roundtable with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

There's a fine line between opening up a dialogue and the promotion of respectability of murderers and tyrants.

Link-o-Rama - Film and TV Edition

Some fun/interesting/time-wasting links for y'all to ponder.

Robot Chicken talks seriously about terrorism HERE (work-safe)

You can read an interview with Rian Johnson, the director of Brick - so far the best movie I've seen in 2006 - right HERE.

According to Aint It Cool, this week's new South Park will take on Family Guy.

Why haven't you seen a Baz Luhrmann film since the dizzying Moulin Rouge? Well, here's why.

Whither France? (Part Deux)

Having heard from Jabawacefti on the French employment riots, I thought I'd give our readers the patented Codemorse "liberal" perspective.

I should state, right off the bat, that I have very little detailed understanding of the employment laws in France, or of exactly what's going on over there. This should come as no surprise.

But I am more than familiar with the basics, and, armed with those basics (along with Msr. Jaba's commentary and a strong cup of Kona coffee), I am prepared to say....

1) Rioting is dumb.
Who are you impressing? Whose minds are you changing? The answer: no one.
Starting fires and running around in the streets makes you look like an idiot. And a child.
And, frankly, if you act like a child, you should expect to be treated like one.

2) This law, as far I'm able to tell, does absolutely nothing to help young french workers.
It does, however, do a lot for french companies. Thus, one presumes, the rioting.
I fail to see how the creation of a law that essentially destroys job security (deserved or not)
is a boon to young french workers. How does this law help unemployment?

Here in America, businesses hold all the cards. Take a Biz Org or a Corporations class in Law School and marvel at how American corporations have managed to legally make themselves people, with few-to-none of the moral or ethical standards we naturally expect from actual people. Glance, if you will, at the golden parachutes, glittering in the sun, as executives with track records of unassailable failure make off with millions, and their secretaries ponder how they'll spend their retirement money: on food? Or on medicine? Decisions, decisions.

This colors my views toward France's current troubles, and it makes me (partially) sympathetic to those protesting the implementation of this law. Allowing businesses to fire people within the first two years of hiring them probably makes things much easier on those businesses. But how, exactly, does it promote employment in a concrete sense?

And all of you wannabe la resistance members - listen up: setting fires is ridiculous, inane behavior. You want to change something? Then work to change it. This isn't V For Vendetta. Anarchy is not a viable solution.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Whither France?

Apparently, one million people in France came out today in protest of the CPE, a proposed law that allows employers to fire young employees within the first two years of their employment.

Zut alors! Quelle dommage! This is the home of the great Fabian Barthez?

Ironic, is it not? Our enlightened European allies, ever heckling the ignorant American, are so vigorously protesting a measure designed to lower the rising unemployment of "youth" workers (currently at 22%). Any why are they protesting? "Firing people more easily won't bring more jobs." Surely someone in France has taken an economics course.

If an employer cannot fire someone regardless of that person's competence, just how excited do you think that employer will be to hire someone?

Today, France's unemployment stands at 10%, over twice that of the United States. No matter, let the economic suicide commence.

Move over France, India and China are coming through.

Pocketful Of Money/Bellyful Of Wine/Condi In My Heart/And Romance On My Mind

From the BBC:

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has admitted the US has made thousands of tactical errors in Iraq, but said it was right to remove Saddam Hussein.

"I know we've made tactical errors - thousands of them, I'm sure," Ms Rice said in a session of questions after her speech, organised by BBC Radio 4's Today programme and Chatham House international affairs institution.

"But when you look back in history, what will be judged is did you make the right strategic decisions," she said.


Um, no. What will be judged are all of the decisions.

What Rice is arguing here, essentially, is that the ends will justify the means. That's bizarre logic; absurd and dangerous as argument. It seems calculated to make criticism of the actual war (as opposed to the hoped-for result of that war) effectively irrelevant. What sort of reasoning is that? "Yes, I screwed up...I cheated on my wife, didn't give my kids enough to eat...called in sick to work too often...gambled...but history will show that, the whole time, I was trying to be a good father. And my kids turned out all right."

Well, that's all well and good...but the fact is, you weren't a good father. And the fact that your kids turned out alright probably has less to do with you, and more to do with them.

That's the sort of argument Ms. Rice appears to be making. And then there's this.

During her speech Ms Rice touched on a number of key issues of US foreign policy, saying that:

  • no-one should doubt America's commitment to justice and the rule of law

  • the US had no desire "to be the world's jailer", and that Washington wanted "the terrorists that we capture to stand trial"

  • No one should doubt it?

    I love my country - heart, mind, and soul. I believe that America is the greatest country in the world. Nothing - not even the lunkheaded war tactics of our current administration - can change that opinion. But as a lover of my country and what I see it as representing, I cannot help but doubt our nation's current approach to "the rule of law." Wasn't there something in the papers a while back about some sort of illegal, warrantless, wire-tapping? Cynicism is a political state of mind that's been a hallmark of democracy since the form's inception. It's a necessary component. It's valuable, even if, and perhaps, especially when, it's unwanted.

    And that brings me to Condi Rice point number two: that Washington wanted the terrorists they capture to stand trial. You mean like Jose Padilla stood trial?

    It's Ms. Rice's job to be positive about this stuff - she'd be foolhardy and ineffectual if she stood up and lambasted her bosses. But one hopes that behind closed doors, there's some serious lambasting going on. Lambast. What a great freakin' word.

    Christ For Congress!

    From CNN:

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Tom DeLay will drop out of his re-election race, two Republican congressional sources told CNN on Monday.

    DeLay told Time magazine Monday that he and his wife, Christine, had been prepared for an election battle, but that he decided Wednesday to spare his suburban Houston district the expected bitter campaign.

    "This had become a referendum on me," he told the magazine. "So it's better for me to step aside and let it be a referendum on ideas, Republican values and what's important for this district."


    Anoymous sources tell Codemorse that the Republicans will next approach Jesus Christ himself to spear-head the nomination. "Who better to promote real family values than the Only Son of God, Himself?" was the rhetorical question posed by one Republican staffer, who asked to remain nameless. Efforts to contact The Anointed One were met with silence, despite the prayerful efforts of several reporters.

    She's A Brick And I'm Drowning Slowly

    Rian Johnson's Brick is, for lack of a better turn-of-phrase, the cat's pajamas.

    And turn-of-phrase is Brick's bread n' butter. This is a film in love with language - with the power and pleasure and impenetrability of it. It's also a film that could have very easily been a stunt. A joke. A labored, unweildy metaphor-as-movie.

    It's a testament to both Johnson's script, and his talented cast (including a jaw-droppingly good Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whom I last saw doing his best ALF impression on Third Rock From The Sun) that Brick works at all. What's more amazing is that it works damn well.

    Here's the plot, in a nutshell: Brendan Frye has a mission: His ex-girlfriend's gone missing, and he's determined to find her. Delving into the cliques and alliances that make up his High school, Frye discovers his ex's fate, and far more.

    And here's the "stunt": Brick is honest-to-god film noir. Every hoary character archetype from every Raymond Chandler novel and B&W detective movie is handily, and brilliantly, represented here. The mob King Pin. The Moll. The Dame-what-got-whacked. The Informant. The Turn-Coat. And the shock - the true pleasure of Brick - is that the fit is seamless. In the same way that Joss Whedon's Buffy mined gold from the concept of High School as literal-hell, Johnson's Brick unites noir and lunch-rooms with similar aplomb. It just works. And the dialogue...

    God, the dialogue in this thing.

    Whether it's Frye's student telling The Pin (an excellent Lukas Haas) that he's "just going to stand here and bleed at you," or threatening an adversary with "showing your ace," the dialogue in Brick simmers and slithers like a venomous snake in pre-strike mode. It's astonishing. It's hilarious. It's heart-breaking. And it's beautifully, powerfully original.

    You forget, as you get older, how tough High school actually was. How the emotions in yourself and everyone around you were like constantly blooming flowers of possible destruction. How every word or gesture from a girl could keep you up at night - for better or worse. But Brick brings that primal, uncomfortable rawness back in a way that's a rush. By playing the film completely straight - by never "winking" at the audience over the film's high-concept, Johnson and his cast create a dream-memory of how High school is remembered - a shifting, shady, sometimes agonizingly-lonely set of allegiances that twist and never, ever, really settle.

    Brick is the best movie I've seen in 2006, and it's a film I'll own when it's released on DVD. It joins a small (but growing) list of "strange little indies" that I'll subsequently pimp to friends and family with real passion. It'd also make a superb television show. HBO? Here's your next program, delivered gift-wrapped and sealed with a poisonous kiss.

    If you're a fan of film, you owe it to yourself to seek out Brick. It won't change the world, and it won't change your life. But it will knock your socks off, pal. Right. Clean. Off.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Alternative/Addition to Intelligent Design?

    A more plausible alternative?

    Please note the inversely proportional relationship between the number of pirates and the global average temperature. Coincidence?

    Ode to George Mason

    For fans of sport, the recent ascent of George Mason to the NCAA Final Four highlights the wonder that is college athletics. These young men, none of whom were vested with the fanfare of a J.J. Redick or Adam Morrison, came from virtual obscurity against the elite of the collegiate world to make their mark. And it was awesome to behold.

    What was most incredible about it was their attitude about the tournament. On the whole, they were just happy to be there. What a stark contrast to the world that is professional sports.

    I grew up as an avid Yankees fan. This may mean nothing to those of you familiar only with the Yankees of old (i.e., Babe, Mantle, etc.) and the new Yankees (Jeter and Co.). But I grew up watching them get pummeled year after year yearning for the glory days of old. My heros were Dave Righetti, Mike Pagliarulo, Jesse Barfield, and Eric Plunk (mostly because as a kid, it was fun to chant, whenever he came to pitch, "KER - PLUNK!!!" Oh yeah, and he threw a 98 m.p.h. fastball with absolutely no control).

    But I really have to force myself to watch professional sports games anymore, and even more so, Yankees games. It solidified when the Yankees traded for Roger Clemens (lifetime Yankee nemesis), Wade Boggs, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and now, Johnny Damon. I like Damon. But I like him more as a Red Sock. He seemed authentic. Now he's just another star donning the pinstripes, and it doesn't feel right.

    Additionally, any baseball fan grew up worshipping statistics. Any day of the year I could have told you Don Mattingly's batting average, his OBP, his slugging percentage, how many hits he had, RBIs, etc. And they mattered. But that was before the horrible mess that was Sosa, McGuire, and Bonds. The three of them quadrupled in size in a couple of years, under a guise of "enhancing drugs," and the game of statistics was ruined forever.

    It can be pretty depressing. And sometimes, you feel like you don't want to watch these games anymore. Well, until the George Mason game, when the world felt right again. For a brief period of time.

    She Blinded Me With Science

    Some good news in the ongoing War on Science:

    WHEN a young political appointee in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration allegedly attempted to muzzle agency climatologist James Hansen, NASA's commitment to science and learning was called into question. NASA Director Michael Griffin has issued a welcome clarification of the agency's public information policy that reaffirms the right of employees to freely discuss their work and personal opinions without screening by censors.

    The new NASA guidelines prohibit the editing of reports to alter scientific data, as well as any public affairs management of NASA projects by non-agency institutions. In a key section, the document declares that NASA scientists may draw conclusions from their research and communicate them to the media, but "must make clear that they are presenting their individual views — not the views of the agency — and ask that they be sourced as such."

    This comes after George Deutsch, press officer for Nasa and - surprise, surprise! - Bush appointee, had been making major headlines in his "alleged" efforts to censor Nasa scientists on topics ranging from global warming to the Big Bang.

    From the pedia that is Wiki:

    Deutsch gained notoriety in February 2006, when it was reported he ordered the adjustment of NASA websites mentioning Big Bang include the word "theory" afterwards. His comments in the internal NASA email quoted by the New York Times raised concerns because of its religious overtones. Deutsch wrote,

    It is not NASA’s place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator... This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most.

    He also, well, never actually graduated from college- putting him in the unique position of being a high-school graduate assigned to tell this country's top scientists how to think.

    My favorite part:

    On February 6, 2006, Nick Anthis published on his weblog The Scientific Activist news that Deutsch had lied on his résumé about earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Texas A&M University in 2003. Deutsch did attend A&M, but left school in 2004 to work for George W. Bush's reelection campaign. Following this revelation, on February 7, 2006, Deutsch resigned from his post at NASA. [3]

    On February 10th, 2006, the New York Times reported[4] that Deutsch denied he had lied about his college degree on his résumé. They wrote,

    'When I left college,' he said, 'I did not properly update my résumé. As a result, it may appear misleading to some. However, I was up front with NASA about my undergraduate status when they hired me.'

    I admit to some confusion on this one. How does neglecting to update your resume give the impression that you've graduated from college? Because, wouldn't you need to have written "graduated from college" in order for that correction - sorry, update - to be necessary?

    The good news is that Nasa's no longer under this fellow's watchful eye. The bad news is that they hired him in the first place.

    (original article courtesy of DKos)

    Slither Will Make You Sick (And That's A Good Thing)

    This weekend, if you were a yellow-bellied pussywillow, you went and saw Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. Ice Age, with it's "adorable" anthropomorphic animals, sassy black mammoths, and "contemporary" humor, rang up over 70 MILLION dollars.

    That's a lotta Hamiltons, yo.

    Those of you sporting a pair (fig. or lit.) caught Slither, instead. Since Slither went on to rake in a whopping 3.7 million, I can only assume that we're now living in a ball-free society.

    Slither is one of the most disgusting movies I've ever seen. Unlike pretty much everything above, this statement is not hyperbole. Slither is goddamn nasty.

    But it's also hilarious, scary as fuck, and surprisingly well-acted.

    Those of you who know me know that I've got a mancrush on Nathan Fillion (who plays Sheriff Pardy in the film, and was Malcolm Reynolds in Serenity) worthy of some lame Brokeback Mountain jokes, and he's stellar in Slither. The man's a S.T.A.R., and it's a shame that it'll take him acting in a romantic comedy alongside J.Lo (ala McCoughneheynow) for anyone to notice.

    The rest of the cast, from Elizabeth Banks (aka: the bubble-tub hottie from the 40 year-old virgin) to Greg Henry, to Michael Rooker, are top-notch, and completely sell what, in other thespian hands, could have been a deeply silly film.

    Not that Slither isn't deeply silly, because it is. But it's a good silly. The sort of silly that you want to bring a date to, because, let me tell you, you are guaranteed to spend the majority of the film's running time with said-date on your lap (and, perhaps, near-painfully gripping your thigh).

    Grow a pair. Go see Slither.