The Musings of

Something full of magic, religion, bullsh*t.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday Spies ©: Karnak the Magnificent Edition

BTQ provides the answers, and I, presumably, provide the questions. Presumably, the combination is funny. That'll teach you to be presumptuous.

1. Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwartz, Lucille LeSueur.

Name three people who are better decision makers than Arnold Dorsey. . .

and who have never been in Cliff Claven's kitchen.

2. To get to the other side.

Why did the suicidal chicken cross the Mafia?
(I love metaphysical humor.)

3. Drugs. Massive quantities of drugs.

What does it take to reach the Baseball Hall of Fame?

What would it take to make these answers funny?

4. Milbarge.

Who is the greeter at the End of the Internet?

5. Without question, the single most idiotic thing ever thought up by
the human mind.

What the hell is either this or this or this?
Centinel 2:42 PM # | |

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Guess who?

When I was in 6th grade, my teacher, Mr. Humphries, told the class about the infamous ivory-billed woodpecker. The bird itself was a large, impressive woodpecker that was a native of the South. Always rare and reclusive, the last confirmed sighting of the woodpecker was in 1948. The Audubon Society finally listed the bird as "presumed extinct." Despite the length of time, many birders have made locating an ivory-billed woodpecker the Holy Grail of birding and even made the search an obsession. Mr. Humphries, an amateur birder, told us to always be on the lookout, because you never know . . . For months I would chase after every "rat-a-tat-tat" I heard on the Georgia pines -- hoping to be the first to find the elusive bird.

Well, nearly 30 years later, AP is reporting that the ivory-billed woodpecker has been rediscovered in the deep woods of Arkansas. I'm a pretty cynical guy, but I find it damn-near amazing that such a large bird species can remain hidden for over half-a-century in the middle of our populous country. It gives me some minor hope to think that there are still things we don't know about our own backyard.

Here's to you, Mr. Humphries, wherever you are. Turns out that you never do really know . . .
Centinel 12:08 PM # | |

From now on, all your exams will involve a rubber glove

One of my closest and oldest friends had a lot to do with me going to law school. He graduated law school the year before I started, and had an impact on my decision to wade into these shark-infested waters. The bastard.

I can remember my last year in law school, I called him up and was talking about my fall semester exams. He chuckled and said, "You know your now stuck in the real world when you no longer think in terms of semesters or holiday breaks." Fortunately, I have fellow blawgers to remind me that there are still people out there who have to deal with exams and revel in the freedom that is summer break. They, combined with the imminent arrival freshly-scrubbed, pink-faced summer associates, drag me back to the days of yore, and make me glad that, for all the crap bigflaw thrusts upon us, I would rather be working on a summary judgment deadline that prepping for a Commercial Transactions exam.

In an attempt to make you whatever-L's feel better about your current lot in life, I will reveal the most adrenaline-pumping moment I had in law school. My first exam was in CivPro and was scheduled for 3 p.m. I had, of course, been cramming for days for the @#$% thing, and not being a team player, I had spent most of that time locked in my apartment. Finally, the day of the exam I emerged from my hole to drive over to the school. I decided to get there an hour early to sharpen my pencils, grab my bluebooks, chat a bit with the other condemned, and then do that last-minute cramming thing. I parked my truck and moseyed through the calm pine trees to the bottom entrance of the school. Opening up the door to the nearest carrel area, I was greeted by a curious and unexpected sound: silence. The first few steps I made the thought was, "Odd, where is everyone?" The usually bustling area was emptier than a South Alabama ACLU meeting. It took about 5 steps for me to break into a run for my carrel . . . where I had left my exam schedule. I quickly thumbed down to the CivPro exam and there it stated in 12-pt. courier: Exam 2 p.m. I shot my eyes toward the clock on the wall, which read 2:07. With nothing but pen in hand I set an Olympic indoor record in getting to the exam room. The professor, who was a bit of an asshole and an oddball, was in the process of explaining the directions when I burst in and grabbed an (inexplicably) open seat in the back. Looking up at me, he stated, "How nice of you to join us, would you like an exam?" Everybody laughed, my heart was beating, like, 150 times a minute from the scare and unplanned exercise. It probably goes without saying that CivPro was my best grade that semester.

Good times.
Centinel 7:56 AM # | |

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Oh, sweetheart, you don't need law school. Law school is for people who are boring and ugly and serious.

I know there are millions of "Pre-L" bloggers running around out there gearing up to start the Law School Challenge next year. stag has asked the all-wise Fitz-Hume for advice, and he has provided in spades. In the spirit of co-operation, I add my $.02. These opinions are my own and may conflict with other advice you are given. It may not be right for you, but it was right for me. If it seems like crap to you, then it probably is. I make no warranty that following any or all of this advice will land you a seat on the SCOTUS, but if it does, I expect you to acknowledge me in your autobiography - unless you're a huge judicial activist, in which case you should acknowledge me by my other pen name, "Feddie."

  1. Fitz mentioned studying smart, but it's important enough to mention twice. Everyone does outlines the first semester and no one does them by the 6th - there's a reason for that. After your first year you've begun to learn what is important and what is not. What you need to do is to figure out how YOU best learn things - especially come exam time. Personally, I typed my notes out a couple of weeks out making my big outline (usually between 30-50 pages) and then a couple of days out I began condensing to 2 or 3 pages. Unlike Fitz and many others, I never used professional outlines, because I needed that link between the notes, the class, and the professor's lecture to keep it all straight. I did, however, use "nutshells" (usually reading them 24 hours before the exam) because I liked a separate narrative explanation of the law. I only used flash cards for contracts (I don't know why), but I completely relied on them in prepping for the bar. Note: This is how I learned. Everyone will tell you how they learn/study - what his or her plan is - ignore these people and do it your way, be it in groups, alone, in the library, or at home.

  2. Definitely get away from law students when you can. This took me a year or so to learn myself. I became . . . involved with another student and it nearly fried me in more ways than one. By 3rd year I was spending most of my time with non-students. At the same time, try to discover who the good law students are and get to know them. I was successful in getting to know some fantastic people and failed in the sense that I missed knowing others as well as I would like to have.

  3. Don't listen to gunners. Don't be a gunner.

  4. Don't be afraid to look stupid in class. Everyone will at some point.

  5. Realize that, unlike college, your classmates are likely as smart as you. You are competing with them in a way, but there is no need to be competitive. Many of them will goof off or whatever and leave the door open for a conscientious student to do well.

  6. Get in the habit of always reading for class (before socializing in the evening, if possible) and going to every class.

  7. Don't take gut classes. You're in law school to learn, so learn. Never be afraid to take a class because it looks interesting.

  8. Don't begin your exam outline until around Thanksgiving. You don't know enough your first month to effectively outline.

  9. I know Fitz says don't take classes for the bar, but I do wish I'd taken Secured Transactions.

  10. If you plan to do any litigating, take Evidence and realize that Civil Procedure may be the most important class in law school.

  11. Take naps.

  12. Your first semester is by far the most important. That's not to say that if you have a bad one you're sunk - I know people who recovered nicely - it's just to say that it's not the time to screw around. Save that for 3rd year.

  13. Try to do something - be it a journal, a clinic, or moot court.

  14. Utilize every advantage to find a job - friends, professors, family members, the computer, and, if absolutely necessary, career services.

  15. Don't freak out at test time. Stress is just as big a killer as lack of knowledge. Some of my best grades where in classes that I thought I failed.

  16. Get to know your professors. They are usually witty, intelligent individuals who have an amazing ability to write recommendation letters.

  17. It never hurts to think early and often about your job prospects and plan what you want to do.

  18. If you are fortunate enough to do well your first year, do not sign up for every job interview that comes on campus (if that's even possible). Limit your job search to places and positions you would consider taking. Many interviews you take will result in taking a chance away from someone else. If you are just interviewing for "practice," you could be damaging a classmate with lower grade's chance at shining and landing a gig.

  19. If you do get interviews, relax and be yourself. The best interviews I have had on the prospect side of the table were the ones I approached like the interviewer and I were old friends sitting at a bar (without the liquid benefits, of course). Lawyers, as a whole, are a sociable bunch, especially litigators. I've learned from being on the other side of the desk that a good personality goes a long way. Firms love good grades, etc., but interviewing lawyers want to work with people they like. One of my classmates had average grades, but he landed a job with a top national firm because he cornered an interviewer after a day of off-campus interviews (he didn't even get picked to interview) and dazzled the guy with his personality. So relax, be enthusiastic, and kill.

  20. When all else fails, alcohol is your friend.

  21. Remember: C = J.D. Few people fail out of law school. Even if you are dead last in your class, you will be able to take the bar. As a friend of mine told me before law school: A students = nerds who have to take teaching jobs; B students = successful lawyers; C students = those who have to take chances, win big, and retire early and rich.

  22. Finally, there will be times where you hate law school. There will be times where you wonder what you were thinking paying money to put up with this crap. Always remember that law school is life, not preparation for life. It is three years where you don't have to worry about crappy clients, obnoxious bosses, project deadlines (for the most part), and the usual stress and B.S. associated with the "real world." Enjoy this time, because you won't be this unburdened until they hand you a gold watch in another 40 years.
Centinel 8:27 AM # | |

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

10 minutes with NPR: FUND DRIVE WEEK II

Would some of you Prius-driving, tofu-eating, Rachmaninov-listening, Bush-criticizing, ACLU-supporting, gay pride triangle-sporting, weed-toking, Unitarian-worshiping, Democrat-voting, Birkenstock-wearing, urban-living, Michael Moore-defending, ballet-attending, FOX News-hating, New Yorker-reading, Noam Chomsky-praising, Howard Dean-following, big government-loving nitwits please send your donations to NPR so I don't have to listen to another week of incessant begging and annoying reminders of how fantastic NPR is?

Thank you.
Centinel 8:01 AM # | |

Monday, April 25, 2005

Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?...

For all you Freetraders and Freetradettes out there, CATO's Center for Trade Policy Studies has recently released its ratings of the 108th Congress wherein our heroes pin down Senators and Reps on the issues that get most Americans hot and bothered: trade barriers and subsidies. I can feel the palpatations from here, o' fevered-browed ones.

Actually, I find this extraordinarily interesting, not just because me and Adam Smith go way back, but because, unlike most congressional ratings, it's hard to tell where your "Conservatives" and "Liberals" are going to land. Freetrade.Org breaks down legislators into four camps in a familiar and convenient matrix that looks something like this:

The votes themselves are drawn from tariffs, quotas, trade sanctions, etc., and are not the type of rah-rah bills that get a lot of big (or small) news coverage. In fact, the only people who care about trade sanctions on Burma are social misfits who would love to have a Burmese python as a pet and, presumably, the people of Burma, who, as it turns out, don't have much voting power in U.S. elections and therefore tend to get slapped with sanctions by congressmen who somehow have come to equate economic blackmail as the road to freedom. But I digress.

Even more fun than talking free trade is gossiping about who is in bed with whom on these issues. For example, recently retired Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK), a rock-ribbed, dustbowl conservative, was the most consistent free trade advocate in the Senate over the last decade. Joining him was Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) who is anything but conservative. Of course, they are both Republicans, so maybe we've found the one issue that the party actually agrees on!

Then again, maybe not. While the House and Senate each had 11 Free Traders, all GOP members, of the 107 internationalists in the House, 44 were Democrats. And there were twice as many internationalist Democrats (10) in the Senate than Republicans (5). On the other end of the spectrum, the interventionalists, Republicans like Charles Taylor (R-NC) and Don Young (R-AK) marched lockstep with Knownothings such as Dick Gephardt (D-MO) and Eliot Engle (D-NY). Huh.

Do free trade issues really matter come election time? Probably not. They may increase business fundraising a small amount, but few if any voters have hot-button urges for tariffs like they did in the old days -- with the possible exception of NAFTA, which has now been the law of the land for over the decade (during which the AFL-CIO's prediction of lost jobs has ironically come true).

Anyway, check out the ratings. If anything, you'll have a conversation starter at your next Von Mises Fan Club meeting.
Centinel 4:06 PM # | |

That is non-non-non-non-non-non-heinous!

Man, a few hamburgers and a few (dozen) beers, and the next thing you know . . .

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Third Level of Hell!

In the third circle, you find yourself amidst eternal rain, maledict, cold, and heavy. The gluttons are punished here, lying in the filthy mixture of shadows and of putrid water. Because you consumed in excess, you meet your fate beneath the cold, dirty rain, amidst the other souls that there lay unhappily in the stinking mud. Cerebus, a canine monster cruel and uncouth with his three heads and red eyes, dwells in this level. He growls and tears at the damned with his teeth and claws.

Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Test

That is without a doubt the mother of all personality quizzes. I just can't imagine how you can top determining the appropriate level of Hell for someone.

That said, you know it's only a matter of time before Mel Gibson, Wes Craven, and Industrial Light and Magic team up for Dante's Inferno: The Movie. Now that would be a mind blower.

(Hat tip to Nema over at Desolate Irony who has got me beat cold. Literally.)
Centinel 3:09 PM # | |

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Friday Spies ©: Mad skillz edition

From the BTQ crew:

1. Which Simpsons character are you most like?

I'm probably a cross-pollination between Lionel Hutz and Moe. There have been so many damn characters on that show that I'm surprised I'm not actually one of them. Here's what Quizilla says:

You are...Marge Simpson! You're laid-back, easy going, and a down to earth person. You'd make a good parent!
Not on friggin' word from you people.

Seriously though, have you ever looked to see how much Simpson trivia and miscellany is out there? It's sick. If these people spent half as much time trying to stop world hunger as they do cataloging beaver references, then Angelina Jolie wouldn't have to keep adopting third-world babies.

I also must admit that I don't see what all the Simpson hype is about. It's a good show, but I don't laugh nearly as much as I do watching Southpark or The Family Guy.

2. Name a song you hate that is performed by a band you like. Name a
song you like by a band you hate.

I like Jimi Hendrix, but I hate "Hey, Joe." Oh, and I love the Clash, but every time I hear Joe Strummer's "It's a Rockin' World" I just want to cry. One more: I have always loved Van Halen, but "Dreams" just blows.
I don't like R.E.M., but I like "Radio Free Europe."

3. What skills do you possess? Nun chuck skills? Computer hacking skills?

I have mad beer drinking skillz. You can put down several drinks in front of me, and I can, while wearing a blindfold, tell you which, if any, are beer.

4. Coen Brothers or Farrelly Brothers?

Not even close. The Coen Brothers have made some amazing movies -- from Blood Simple, to Miller's Crossing, to Raising Arizona. The Farrelly Brothers should be writing for MAD TV.

5. What do you predict will be the worst part(s) of the new Star Wars movie?

The part where someone convinces me to pay $7.50 to see the @#$% thing.
Centinel 11:58 PM # | |

10 minutes with NPR: FUND DRIVE WEEK

Centinel 12:32 PM # | |

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

New meaning to the phrase "Battle of the Sexes"

Catherine MacKinnon, the Michigan Law professor and feminist theorist, is back in the spotlight again. Reason magazine is reporting that in a speech at Stanford Law the good professor stated that "[a] kind of war is being fought, but there is no name for this war in which men are the aggressors and women the victims." She went on to note that roughly the same number of women are killed by men every year as died on 9/11, which has to go in the ranks of great pointless statistics of all time. The gist of her harangue, I suppose, is that there is a "war" going on where men are trying to keep women down.

Ignoring for a minute that war is a two-way street -- something clearly not envisioned by Ms. MacKinnon -- where does all of this lead? As Reason points out, there are plenty of inconvenient facts that hurt Ms. MacKinnon's analogy: such as the fact that men kill men much more often than they kill women and the fact that few crimes are committed due to misogyny. It also notes that if Ms. MacKinnon's arguments are to be accepted, then we must also assume that blacks are at war with white Americans, and that all black-on-white crime is due to race. In short, Ms. MacKinnon is an idiot.

But we knew that. Even if she didn't say that "all rape is sex," [Ed.: Or, perhaps, as it should read, "all sex is rape"] she still has some serious issues with reality. What got me thinking was this exchange from Elliot Fladen:
When she brought up the need to protect rape shield laws so as to safeguard the equality of women, I asked her if she was willing to prevent inequality of men by making false reporting of rape provable beyond a reasonable doubt a felony. Her response was that she was unwilling to do so, because this would discourage rape reporting for the overall class of women.
If I may, here's Ms. MacKinnon's logic as I see it: Laws that encourage women to report rape are good, even if they result in false reporting of rape. There can be no doubt that false reporting of rape naturally leads to false convictions and imprisonment for rape. As such, Ms. MacKinnon is saying that she is willing to see innocent men get sent to jail rather than let some guilty men (rapists) go free.

Excellent. For years now the ethical debate has raged over the value of n in the equation "It is better for n guilty men to be set free than for one innocent man to be imprisoned." Now we can argue over whether it is better for 10 or 100 innocent men to be wrongly accused and/or imprisoned rather than have one guilty rapist wandering the streets. I think the snake of modern liberalism is finally eating its tail.

Update: Link to Fladen is fixed.

Update II: For those who care, here is Reason's take on MacKinnon's now-deceased partner in crime, Andrea Dworkin. (Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds).
Centinel 12:26 PM # | |


Has it really been 10 years? Wow. It's funny how much the world has changed in a decade. After 9/11, the Oklahoma City Bombing has lost a little bit of its impact. It's difficult to look back over the debris of the Twin Towers and remember the fear and confusion of April 19, 1995.

My memory is probably a little stronger than most. I was in OKC on that day. Those who follow my obscure scribblings know that before I embarked upon a lucrative career in interpreting the law, I helped pass the laws. My job took me all over the country, where I usually spent several months working in one place before moving on to one a thousand miles away. In January 1995, I was moved from Montana to Oklahoma to assist our local affiliate with a legislative program. April 19 was my last day in town. I was scheduled for my first vacation in two years -- a trip to North Carolina to visit friends -- before heading out to God-knows-where for my next mission.

Not being much of a planner, I had waited to pack up my truck the morning I was scheduled to leave. Just after 9 a.m., I was standing in the middle of my too-small temporary apartment, approximately 5 miles west of downtown, trying to figure out how I was going to fit x amount of items in the x-1 amount of space in my truck, when there was this compression. I don't know what else to call it. My door rattled, my windows bowed, and I could feel the air pressure change and hear to muffled explosion. I actually went out into the street next to my apartment to see what happened. All I saw was some roofers working on the office in the complex on a beautiful spring day.

I went back in and continued packing for about 5 minutes when a voice cut into the radio station I had playing in the background. I can still remember what it said: "A building downtown has blown up. We don't know which building or how, but we are receiving reports that a tremendous explosion has happened downtown and has damaged at least one building." Downtown? But I felt the damn thing!

My first thought was that someone had blown up the Capitol building where I spent much of my time.

Not having a TV, I hurriedly filled my truck and drove over to the office I was working out of. When I got there, I found the 5th-floor secretary/gatekeeper watching a TV on her desk. The first images of the Murrah building began coming in, and we were just dumbfounded. I went to the office, but the guy I worked with wasn't in. I called him, and he told me that he was staying home.

The calls started filtering in -- friends and family members from across the country were concerned and just as confused as we were. "No, we know any more than you. No, I don't think anyone I know works there." Around noon I decided I needed something to eat. There was a mall about a mile down the road, and the food court seemed like a good idea. Across the street from the mall was a 7 or 8 story building that had shopping on the bottom floors and offices above. The parking lot was completely closed down with police cars blocking every entrance. I had delivered something to an office in the building a few weeks before, and remembered from looking at the locater board that the FBI offices in the building.

A little wigged, I pulled into the mall parking lot and entered the building. The place was dead. Despite being the middle of the day, about 25% of the stores were closed. I meandered through the ghost town to the second floor eating area and was pleased to find that Chick-fil-a was open. I ordered my sandwich and sat down in the middle of the court practically alone.

This was the moment that brought it all home. I was sitting there, reading a magazine and munching on my waffle fries when a shadow fell across the page. I looked up. 30 feet above me was the ceiling with raised skylighting. Framed in one of the skylights was a man dressed in black carrying an automatic weapon. Here I was in that most American of all places, the mall, and some government agent in sunglasses and a backwards baseball bat was armed to the teeth a ready to kill anyone who tried to interfere with my lunch.

I finished eating, rode back to the office for one more call to my co-worker, then hit the road about 10 minutes ahead of an approaching thunderstorm. Due to the bombing, I had to circumnavigate the town, and I was soon caught in the torrential downpour heading eastward on I-40.

I listened to the radio for a couple of hours until I couldn't take anymore. I stopped for burgers at a Krystal in Memphis, called my mother from a payphone, and made a last-minute decision not to take the interstate, but to drive across Tennessee on a state highway. I got into Chattanooga around 3 a.m. and decided to drive straight to Charlotte instead of going south to Atlanta. For those unfamiliar with the area, this route is nothing but roads winding through the mountains, and is nothing short of beautiful. I remember the sun coming up and finally making it into Charlotte a little before noon.

I wish I had something profound to say about my experiences that day, but I don't. I pondered the situation all night and was unable to find any rational explanation. The following 10 years haven't brought any further clarity. How Americans could decide that such actions were necessary or even within the realm of possibility is beyond me. I don't have the faintest idea what they felt they were accomplishing, and I really don't want to know.

I only know that it's important not to forget.
Centinel 9:44 AM # | |

Monday, April 18, 2005

Free at last

For those who missed it, Tax Freedom Day was yesterday. Yes, if you parse it out, the average American has had to work from January 1 to April 17 to pay his or her taxes, and now he or she can enjoy the fruits of his or her labor for the rest of the year comfortable in the knowledge that the extortion his or her taxes will be used in the most asinine efficient manner possible by our incompetent, big-government, tax-and-spend ,smiley-faced Nazis of death faithful public stewards.

Of course, thanks to the desire of our legislators to stick their grubby fingers in our business nurturing nature of our politicians, Alcohol Amnesty Day has fallen 2 day's later this year to July 29, as we add up all the money that we spend on alcohol to forget how much taxes were paying.
Centinel 4:27 PM # | |

10 minutes with NPR: Conclaving Cardinals Congregate

The Story: Now that basketball season is over, the good folks at NPR can focus on handicapping the ascendancy of the next Pope. As such, it decided to talk to some Catholic types about what would actually go on behind the closed doors as the College of Cardinals meets to elect the new pontiff. According to the Catholic types, there are plenty of contenders, but if there appears to be an early favorite, many Cardinals will jump on board, even if the favorite wasn't on their dance card, because appearing unified is more important than waging war over divisive candidates. Although Pope John Paul II changed the rules, which will now evidently allow for a simple-majority election if the first rounds of 2/3's voting fails, those interviewed felt that it would not be necessary because of the desire to appear unified.

My Take: It seems to me that this dynamic would often lead to the election of the least divisive candidate. Strong candidates engender strong emotions. I can imagine that compromise candidates are shoe-ins in attempts to avoid fights over the "leading" candidates. On the one hand, it seems to me that this results in the most innovative candidates losing out because their ideas for change will likely provoke some opposition, resulting in the election of the "safe" candidate. On the other hand, it would appear that the desire for unity would act as a type of minimum controversy requirement, thus weeding out any particularly contentious candidates.

Obviously, the leading candidate would be an outsider -- probably someone with some experience with politicking -- who could bring the church together. With that in mind, I think the choice is obvious.

Update: The Cardinals have failed to elect a new pope on the first day. After a night game at Pittsburg, the Cards will return for the second round of voting, which will begin with the evening gown competition.

Update II: A friend just sent me an email attachment listing the voting as if it were a NCAA Tournament bracket. I'd post it, but it's barely legible. Suffice to say, it is titled Dick Vitale's Popapalooza 2005 and lists the rounds from the Sweet Sistine to the Diocese Duo. All the brackets include cardinals from each region (Italy, Latin America, etc.), except for one of the Asia-Africa brackets which says Duke. Good stuff.
Centinel 11:17 AM # | |

Friday, April 15, 2005

A bottomfeeder by any other name . . .

Dylan over at the "new and unimproved" The Slithery D, recently mentioned that he will not be taking the bar after he graduates law school so he will not really be a lawyer. I've always had problems with this. Could someone explain the difference between lawyer, non-practicing lawyer, attorney, etc.? I always thought that lawyers were law-school graduates, but I know that's a minority opinion. It can't just be a profession, because there are plenty of folks out there who have law degrees but are no longer "lawyers." So what's the deal?
Centinel 3:52 PM # | |

Friday Spies ©, again

1. What names did you consider for your blog?

I wish I had something witty to say here. For that matter, I wish I had something witty to say anywhere. However, Centinel was always my first choice. As this site succinctly states:

The "Centinel" wrote a series of 24 articles that appeared in the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer and the Philadelphia Freeman's Journal between October 5, 1787, and November 24, 1788. He argued that the elaborate system of checks and balances would be less effective in protecting liberty than in preventing the people from detecting corruption and tyranny in their leaders, and that a simple, responsive plan of government would be better.
Centinel was one of the Anti-Federalists who lost this argument in the 1780's when our current constitution was adopted. Despite the rejection, much of what Centinel warned about has come true, including monstrous government growth, skyrocketing taxes, and the near complete extension of federal governmental power at the expense of the states. While many Conservatives have been only too willing to accept the moniker of Federalist, I will remain an Anti-Federalist in the classical sense.

That said, I did briefly toy with calling the blog "and the horse you rode in on," but it was never a serious thought. Of course, I like the title "Crapping You Negative," but it probably doesn't set the right tone.

2. What is your favorite adult beverage and why?

Fat Tire Amber Ale is my beer of choice, and I choose to drink a lot of beer. When I'm sipping at home it will likely be the Mark or Crown Royal.

3. If you could cancel 3 televisions shows, what would they be?

This question is as tough as roadkill steak. There are so many absolutely horrible shows out there, but I generally avoid television so they don't affect me. Therefore, I choose to eliminate those I hear about and would rather not: American Idol, The Bachelor/Bachelorette, and Dangerous Housewives.

4. You've been asked to host SNL. Which cast would you choose to work with, and who would you choose as the musical guest?

I couldn't do better than the original core cast: Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner (with special guest host Steve Martin). Eddie Murphy was my favorite cast member, but he carried the show for three seasons. As for my musical guest, I'm going to go with Bob Schneider or The Frames.

5. What will Britney Spears name her baby and which three names will she consider and reject before settling on the "winner"?

If'n it's a boy: Elvis, Dale, Earl, and the winner is: Kevin Federline, Jr.

If'n it's a she: Lexus, Destinee, Kristol, and the winner is: Madonna Federline
Centinel 2:35 PM # | |

Thursday, April 14, 2005

And he said, uh, come here and get free beer or, uh, he'll press charges.

This story concerning the finger allegedly found in Wendy's chili has so many trailer trash layers it's amazing Britany Spears isn't involved. Anna Ayala, the supposed lucky customer is now stating that she will not sue the chain apparently out of nothing but the goodness of her heart. That's really odd, because evidently she sues company's pretty frequently, including GM and a restaurant with the unfortunate name of Pollo Loco. Hmmmm.

Anyway, today was my favorite turn so far. In their search for the owner of the missing digit, the cops have uncovered a woman who lost her finger in a leopard attack. That's right, a leopard attack. I gotta admit, if a finger has got to go, I couldn't think of a better story than one that begins, "There he was in front of me, spotted with fiery eyes. I knew I couldn't outrun him, so I had to stand and fight . . ." Unfortunately for our heroine, a Ms. Sandy Allman of Pahrump, NV, her story appears to go more like "Me and Bobby finished off the Jaeger, and decided to go out back to Precious's cage and see if we could hand-feed her fried bologna . . ." Not to spoil the surprise, but the leopard she kept at her home bit off her finger and Ms. Allman said that the last she saw it was at the hospital (which only makes one wonder why the leopard went to the trouble of biting off the finger if it wasn't going to eat it, but I digress.)

For added pleasure, take a look at Ms. Allman's "spokesman" The fact that he apparently lives on a dirt road was a real shocker, but I think the tank was over the top.
Centinel 4:40 PM # | |

Law talkin' guy

I have no great love for the act of litigation. Sure, technically I'm a litigator, but like most civil attorneys I rarely make it into court. And I'm good with that. I would much rather be evicerating my opponent on paper that dealing with the messiness of hearings and trails. That said, while I wouldn't want to do it everyday, sometimes it can be a blast to be a "stand up" lawyer, as my friend calls them.
Centinel 4:15 PM # | |

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The first thing we do . . .

I've gotta say, this seems very sensible to me. Who could quibble with the following statements:

Since crime and treason is against the law, and the lawyer profession is a crooked profession, a LEGAL BOUNTY should be placed on ALL LAWYERS (betrayers) and all those who are aiding and abetting these traitors. the lawyers.
ALL lawyers are UNDER ORDERS to HELP ONLY CROOKS and' to AC. VICTIMIZE VICTIMS. That is why ONLY CROOKS SHOULD LIKE LAWYERS. who are their counterparts.
ALL lawyers are programmed to be TRAITORS AND INHUMAN CLONES.
I've known quite a few of these lawyer fellows, and I can concur that most are crooks and INHUMAN CLONES, no, wait, I meant INHUMAN CLOWNS. I would add that many of these lawyer play golf, too. Not that that is unconstitutional, but it sure calls into question their decision-making capabilities.
Centinel 1:20 PM # | |

10 minutes with NPR: MCI

The Story (as paraphrased by me): There was this chick named MarCIa who has been seeing this dude named Bobby Verizon for awhile. As is the way of things, the relationship started getting pretty serious, and on Valentine's Day Bobby V. asked MarCIa to marry him, and she accepted over the protests of her family.

What Bobby didn't know is that MarCIa was also seeing Johnny Qwest, a dangerous young stud from the West Side, who was willing to spend money he didn't have to buy MarCIa's affection. Hoping that love would bring her to the alter, Bobby agreed to let MarCIa talk to Johnny. Sensing the moment, Johnny begged MarCIa to reconsider and to marry him. In his desperation, Johnny issued an ultimatum: it's me or him and you have one week to decide.

Sensing MarCIa, slipping through his fingers, Bobby promised to buy her a new red sportscar as a wedding present. MarCIa is confused. She loves Bobby, but her father doesn't approve of the marriage. She gets hot thinking about Johnny but he's too dangerous. She decides to follow her heart and spurns Johnny.

Bobby realizes that he must move quickly to secure MarCIa's father's approval, so Bobby rushes out and buys him a new house, which gets him MarCIa's father's blessing. Unfortunately for Bobby, when MarCIa finds out about the arrangement she flies into a fury because her father got a house and all she's getting is a car.

What will happen? Will MarCIa spurn Bobby because of all of the backdoor dealing? Will Johnny make another play for MarCIa's heart? Or will MarCIa marry the man she loves despite his imperfections?

Does anyone really care?

My Take:

1. My merger-relationship analogy is about as original as putting syrup on pancakes.
Centinel 11:28 AM # | |

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

...a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; of a stone, a leaf, a door.

In a clear attempt to actually get me to post something, Fitz has made me the latest chain mail recipient of a book meme that is making the rounds (the other two poor saps are stag and E. Spat). I suppose it's only fitting, considering I usually steal my post ideas from him.

1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be saved?

Extraordinarily tough question. Do you go for art or historical importance? Fiction or non-fiction? White or wheat? Fortunately, Feddie has already saved The Bible and Publius has risked it all for Shakespeare (no doubt influenced by John the Savage), so I can eliminate those two. While my mind is leading me one way, I'm going to go with my heart on this one. I would save Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird because it is one of the best portrayals of justice and tolerance (something our book-burning society obviously needs), but mostly because if one book gets saved, it should be a Southerner.

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Not really a crush, but I have had strong feelings for/about Jane Eyre and Natasya from The Idiot.

3. The last book you purchased?

Busted. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (I want to re-read it before the next book comes out, and I'm too lazy to go find my other copy).

4. What are you currently reading?

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino.

5. Five books you would take to a deserted island?

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
I Haven't Understood Anything Since 1962 by Lewis Grizzard
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean:

"Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn't. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters."
Damn, I love that.

In the time-honored tradition of chain letters, I must send this to three other bloggers to answer. I choose TP, j-a, and E.McPan.
Centinel 2:34 PM # | |

Saturday, April 09, 2005

We are jolly green giants, walking the Earth with guns.

Fox News is posting a very interesting article about the recent return to reason in the gun-control debate. After several years of being on the defensive following the Columbine shootings, pro-gun legislation is once again in ascendance. The expected failure of reactive gun-control legislation in lessening crime has prompted pro-gun legislators to return to the argument that gun rights is a security issue, and that gun control only takes guns from law-abiding citizens who could be using them for self defense. The money shot quote states:
"At the scene of these crimes, despite all the good intentions of the police, the prosecutors, the courts, the judges — they're all coming in later," said Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association. "The country as a whole is taking another look, across the board, at the idea that maybe it makes good sense to allow people to protect themselves in as many situations as possible."
As someone who was once active in passing concealed-carry legislation, I couldn't be happier about this trend. Constitutional rights aside, the notion that gun control has any positive effect on crime or safety is laughable. There are enough guns in this country to arm every adult -- nearly 200 million. Nothing the government does, be it gun licensing restrictions or house-to-house searches is going to change the fact that criminals will always have easy access to guns. As noted above, the only people who follow gun laws are people who follow the law. Why is this so difficult to understand? When you place roadblocks in front of gun owning citizens you are only limiting their ability to protect themselves and others. In fact, estimates are that guns are used 1.5 to 2.5 million times a year for self defense. Safety? It has been reported that private citizens are 5 times less likely than police to accidentally shoot an innocent person they mistake for a criminal.

Not all the ambush interviews and rigged "documentaries" in the world can change the fact that a return to gun freedom is good for America.

Update: According to the Arkansas News Bureau, this weekend DNC Chair Howard Dean stated that he was not going to put a gun question on his 50-state issue survey of what the Democratic message should be. "Guns aren't an issue," he said.
Centinel 2:56 PM # | |

Friday, April 08, 2005

Friday Spies ©

As usual, straight from your best source of pre-weekend entertainment, Begging the Question 2d:

1. James Bond or Austin Powers?

"Nobody does it better. Makes me feel sad for the rest. Nobody does it half as good as you. Baby, you're the best."

2. What is the most romantic thing you've ever done for someone?

What? And lose my "He-Man Woman Haters Club" decoder ring. Screw you, man.

Actually, the only thing that comes to mind was when I secretly flew halfway across the country to surprise my then-girlfriend (I had moved to Dallas a couple of months before). I showed up in the middle of the night and called her from her front porch. Later, I gave her a bunch of Texas stuff -- bumper stickers, snow globe, t-shirt, etc. -- and then I asked her if she'd like to live in Texas and showed her the engagement ring.

3. Rachel claims this is her favorite movie. Her actual favorite movie is?


4. What is the perfect rock-and-roll song?

Doesn't exist. But you could distill down these four songs to reach the essence of rock-and-roll music: Unta Gleeben Glauben Globen

5. So what really happened to Milbarge?

Here's the relevant part of the memo:

"And so, while Mr. Milbarge has demonstrated the requisite intellectual achievement and strength of character to engender a positive outcome in any nomination scenario for the Chief Justice vacancy, his continued association with bloggers such as "Fitz-Hume," "Soupie," and "NDC" severely calls into question his decision-making capabilities and would, if improperly disseminated through backdoor channels, certainly result in a premature withdrawal or a negative voting result even if we were to exercise the "nuclear option." It is the Committee's recommendation that he cease and desist all internet-related activity and that mechanics be commissioned to remove these potential impediments."
Centinel 2:18 PM # | |

April Fools' Redux

In an attempt to preserve my "art" for posterity, I have reposted the Slithery D April Fools' template here. Enjoy.
Centinel 1:03 PM # | |

Thursday, April 07, 2005

10 minutes with NPR: Kiddie BMI

A semi-regular feature where your humble commenter, uh, comments on what he heard on National Public Radio during his 10 minute drive to work.

Subject: Concerned recent legislation introduced in the Texas Legislature by State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte which would require schools to calculate each child's Body Mass Index ("BMI"), a measure of body fat based on height and weight, and to include the information on the child's report card.

The Take: The commentator was against the proposal as originally worded on the grounds that placing BMI information on report cards would cause stress to overweight kids and would compound the ridicule they receive from other students, which is bad. What was the basis for the commentator's opinion? Well, it seemst that the commentator's children were actually "blessed" with good genes and her ever-watchful eye for healthy living so they had no weight problems, but she did have a friend who had a "husky" boy. The commentator wasn't worried about her friend's son, because her friend kept an eye on his diet, but what about all of the husky children without such stellar parents? Something must be done. Fortunately, Sen. Van de Putte has amended her bill so that the BMI information is sent directly to the parents. Evidently, this is the law in Arkansas and is being currently debated in Georgia and New York.

My Thoughts:

1. Leticia Van de Putte has got to be a fake name.

2. This entire commentary was geared opposing a bill that had already been amended, and then stating that it's current form was acceptable. "Damn, that bill sucked, and you should all oppose it, except it's OK now, you know, so, like, forget what I was saying . . . Man, I am sooooo wasted." Very compelling.

3. Leticia Van de Putte is a Democrat. I don't have to look.

4. Can the smiley-faced saftey Nazis and whiney nanny-staters just leave well enough alone for once? Do they have to turn every bad idea or insipid concern into regulatory legislation? How far up my waste chute does the government have to be before they are required to buy me a nice steak dinner and take me dancing?

5. Letica Van de Putte looks to be a few Twinkies this side of "hypocrit" on this issue.

6. Is this even a problem? I mean, I know childhood obesity is a problem, but is sending the parents BMI information really benefiting anyone? Does Sen. Van de Putte believe there are parents of fat kids out there who don't know their children are fat? Did she see "The Nutty Professor" too many times? Does she think parents think their fat children are just muscular ("Hercules! Hercules!")?

7. Seriously, the only designer clothing Leticia Van de Putte owns has printed on them.

8. Perhaps the Senator is on to something here. Isn't it about time we started using shame as a character-building tool again? Perhaps we could make the little butterballs wear a scarlet F on their chests or perhaps we could find an appropriate symbol instead.

9. The road to hell is paved with legislated good intentions.
Centinel 12:34 PM # | |

Hillary, la advisor, Hillary, la aggressiva, Hillary power trip-a . . .

A couple of months ago I posted regarding the rapid movement of Sen. Hillary Clinton toward the political center. I suggested in my indirect way that the recent changes in Hillary's political habits were directly based on principle -- specifically the principle of win at all cost. Of course, that might not have been readily apparent from the post itself, but whatever.

Political pollster Scott Rasmussen has taken it one step further by coming up with a measurement system to track the good Senator. In January she was measured at 59 points left of center, and she has narrowed that to 52 points as of this month. If she keeps moving rightward at this rate, she will pass Sen. Arlen Specter by sometime in mid-May.

In case you were wondering, Hillary's miraculous transformation is working. Rasmussen reports that currently 43% of Americans view Hillary as politically liberal, down from 51% in January. The 8% who changed their opinions over the past two months are referred to in advertising circles as "some of the people all of the time."
Centinel 7:49 AM # | |

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Eye in the sky

Have you ever seen something that was both cool and at the same time seriously messed up? I discovered these before-and-after shots of tsunami damage in Indonesia on my general investigation of Goggle's new satillite mapping functions. (Click picture for larger image.)

(Images courtesy of DigitalGlobe.)
Centinel 3:51 PM # | |

Joe vs. The(Democrat) Volcano

A new poll shows that Republicans like Sen. Joe Lieberman more than Democrats.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Joseph Lieberman is handling his job as United States Senator?

Tot Rep Dem Ind Men Wom

Approve 67% 72% 66% 66% 68% 66%
Disapprove 22 18 23 22 24 20
DK/NA 11 10 11 12 8 14

Judging by the response to the poll, it seems that the Liberal Elite view the man as some sort of traitor because this year he has been siding with Bush on a number of issues and because Bush apparently kissed him on the cheek at the State of the Union (didn't I see that story line on Desperate Housewives?). Connecticut Dems have even started referring to him as a Republicrat. What the hell? Are the Dems smoking crack? Isn't this the same guy who was their VP candidate with that stiff guy? Over the last two years, the American Conservative Union has given Lieberman a 0 rating. That's right, a goose egg. That's hardly the mark of a blue dog. So what are Lieberman's sins? They are evidently threefold: (1) he has voted to stop legislative holdups and clotures that have stopped the GOP from getting votes on issues, (2) he has voted to support the President's nominees (evidently adhering to the spirit of "advise and consent," the bastard), and (3) he has supported the War. Now, the third is a policy disagreement, but the first two appear to be mainly procedural. He doesn't like legislative gamesmanship or hiding behind the rules, sure, but that's hardly a reason to pillory the guy.

Far be it from me to tell the Left how to play their course, but if the GOP were half as picky about ideological purity as the Democrats are, there would be only a dozen or so Republican Congressman left. If anyone should be pissed it is non-Connecticut Republicans who have to share a name with the Lieberman Lovers in the Nutmeg State.
Centinel 1:01 PM # | |

Hey! You're not allowed to rent here anymore!*

[Note: I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer. Nothing in this post or any other is intended as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding lease law, please contact an attorney licensed in your state, jackass.]

I have been living in a downtown loft for over 1 1/2 years now. My wife doesn't think too much of it, but I can't beat the convenience. I live 3 miles from work and there are 30+ bars and restaurants within 1/2 mile. That being said, we are renting in an urban area, which is both expensive and a general thundercloud over the soul of those of us who prefer trees and hills to skyscrapers and one-way streets.

But this post isn't about being forced to live in metrosexual hell, it's about unscrupulous property management companies that must be scrupulously watched.

As it turns out, our lease ended on March 31, 2005. I knew this, but I didn't do anything about it, because my wife and I have been looking at houses and so we are inclined at this time to keep the relationship with our management company on a month-to-month basis on the off chance that we decide to start seeing other living spaces. I had received no notice from the management company, so, therefore, I paid my rent on April 1 just like I had been doing.

Last night when I got home from work, there was a nice, curt little note that had been taped to my front door stating that, as I was now a month-to-month tenant, I owned the lessor $100 extra dollars, which is evidently the bump accompanying short term leases. The note also stated that if I did not have my check in the rent box by midnight, I would be assessed late penalties as per the lease. Inside the note was my check.

Now, as any one with a passing familiarity with the law knows, when a lease agreement comes to an end without a new lease being signed and the tenant continues living on the property without any complaint from the landlord, then the relationship continues on a month-to-month basis under the terms of the original lease (it is also important to note that the lease only codified the parties' rights in this regard). Therefore, I owed the management company squat above what I had properly and timely tendered. They could, of course, exercise the 30-day notice provision under the lease and sent me packing in a month, but they had no legal recourse to seek a dime above what was required under the old lease. In layman's terms, they were S.O.L.

I had to wait around this morning to have a discussion with author of the erroneous missive, who was, of course, 15 minutes late for work. I went in and politely explained that they had made a mistake, and she just as politely explained that, yes, she had been doing this for 12 years and knew the law, and that the note was just a spur to get me to visit her to arrange to sign a future lease. I informed her that I would stop in on Saturday and retendered the check.

I am a polite person, but I gotta admit I was a bit pissed off. The notice didn't say,"Please stop by and discuss signing a new lease." What it says was, give us a $100 check. Let's assume for a second that I am not a lawyer, but am instead a candlestick maker who has no understanding of the law. When I stopped in to sign a new lease would the leasing company have returned my $100, which they knew they had no legal right to demand in the first place? In a pig's eye. They made a calculated error in not giving me notice that my lease was up last month and requesting then that I come in to sign a new lease, because then they were able to run the $100 past me. If the lack of notice was a mistake, then why not just send me a nice note asking me to stop in the office when I get a chance to discuss continuing our love affair under a new contract?

A friend of mine had a similar situation happen when he was in law school, except that his landlord had an even more nefarious scheme. In my friend's lease it said that, if the tenant did not give notice within 90 days of the end of the year-long lease, then the lease would automatically renew for another year. Of course my friend missed the 90-day deadline and received a letter from the leasing company that he was legally obligated for another year. My friend took it upon himself to enlighten the lessor, but it took several nasty letters and a few phone calls to get them to back off.

All of this is just to serve as a cautionary tale. As anyone who has ever tried to get back a security deposit knows, many management companies and landlords will play with the contract and take advantage of ignorance of the law to squeeze everything they can out of their tenants. Read your lease, and give 'em hell.

* Clerks
Centinel 8:20 AM # | |

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Was he wearing the standard issue safari jacket?

US troops strike a blow against terrorism.
Centinel 1:57 PM # | |

10 minutes with NPR: Basketball

A semi-regular feature where your humble commenter, uh, comments on what he heard on National Public Radio during his 10 minute drive to work.

Evidently, there was some sort of fantastic sporting contest last night that pitted the Tarheels of North Carolina -- no doubt named after their forebears who reluctantly seceded from the Union during the American Civil War and were said had to have had their heels coated with tar by President Jefferson Davis to make them "stick" to the Confederacy -- against the might Illini of Illinois. Although Illinois means "tribe of superior men" in native tongue of the Peoria Native American indigenous peoples, it was the Carolinians who carried the day in the titanic struggle. Huzzah!
Centinel 7:13 AM # | |

Monday, April 04, 2005

You have the right, but not the ability, to remain silent

A few years ago I busted my lower lip in a manner too stupid to go into here. Actually, it was about 1/3" below my bottom lip where the tooth had almost gone all of the way through. I had returned to law school to meet a few friends for a private 4th of July, and they were all waiting for me to show up at the restaurant when this happened. I remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror spreading the cut and closing it, trying to decide if it was bad enough to merit stitches. I finally quit deluding myself and went to the rather small local hospital that was only about a mile away. I won't bore you with the medical details, but something amusing happened while I was there. The emergency room had two beds and a divider curtain. While I was being prepped and stitched, another patient was brought to the other bed. A few minutes later, a local cop came in and the following discussion ensued:

Country Cop: Don't worry about it, I talked to the guy and he said you can leave your truck in his front yard for a couple of days. You hit that tree pretty hard, but it should be OK. I am gonna have to ask you a few questions, though.

Drunk Redneck: OK, if you have to.

CC: Did you have anything to drink tonight?

DR: Yeah.

CC: What did you drink?

DR: Beer.

CC: How many did you have?

DR: Probably 3 or 4.

CC: Tall boys?

DR: Yeah.

CC: Well, that's not too bad for a guy you’re size. I’m gonna need you to take a little test for me.

DR: What kinda test?

CC: Its just a little breathalyzer, but if you only had a few beers it should be fine.

It takes about 3 minutes for CC to get DR to blow hard and long enough to register. Finally . . .

CC: Well, it say's here that your blood alcohol content is .022 and that's a lot more than 3 or 4 beers.

Me: (thinking to myself) Shutup, shutup, shutup . . .

DR: (sobbing) I'm goin' to jail, ain't I?

I was able to get a good look at DR's leg on the way out (it's all I could see) and judging from that ham hock, he was a large boy. I still crack up when I think about the cop and the guy who's yard he ran into talking about leaving the truck there. Only in the country.
Centinel 5:19 PM # | |

Purple is the new red.

In their relentless battle against ignorance, teachers may have recently discovered a powerful new weapon: purple pens. Well, to be accurate, the weapon includes green pens, indigo pens and any other pen that isn't red. You see, the education establishment has figured out why children aren't learning -- too many of our teachers are callously using red pens to correct papers. Yes, like bloody whip marks, these little red slashes are destroying the self esteem of our most tender pups. Rightfully outraged parents have pointed out that red is "stressful" and "symbolic of negativity." So to placate the progressive parents, many school systems are banning teachers from grading with "abrasive" red pens.

According to the AP article:
The disillusionment with red is part of broader shift in grading, said Vanessa Powell, a fifth-grade teacher at Snowshoe Elementary School in Wasilla, Alaska.

"It's taken a turn from 'Here's what you need to improve on' to 'Here's what you've done right,"' Powell said. "It's not that we're not pointing out mistakes, it's just that the method in which it's delivered is more positive."
So let me get this straight. In a continuing effort to remove any social stigmatism from the school system, teachers are (1) focusing on material already learned by the student rather than telling them how to improve and (2) use purple pens because red pens have a negative connotation. Call me crazy, but if you continue to used purple instead of red, won't the purple soon develop the same emotional baggage as the red? I can't imagine that the "abrasiveness" is inherent to the color red, much less that it has any correlation with grading. Bad grades suck whether corrections are made in blood or glitter pen, and no amount of purple ink is going to have a difference on kids who won't or can't learn. I think the only rational teacher interviewed summed things up very nicely by stating:
"I don't think changing to purple or green will make a huge difference if the teaching doesn't go along with it," [Charles County, Maryland, reading and writing specialist Janet] Jones said. "If you're just looking at avoiding the color red, the students might not be as frightened, but they won't be better writers."
Well, God bless us every one. Maybe there are some good teachers left.
Centinel 3:40 PM # | |

Then what is it?

Is this the Clinton legacy?
Centinel 9:01 AM # | |