Saturday, July 30, 2005
Kathleen Edwards, "Back to Me". I've already declared this the Official Hit Single of my summer. A great guitar sound, a hilarious lyric. I like "Twenty Years in State" from the same album, too.
Beausoleil, "Zydeco Gris Gris". The version that opens "The Big Easy" is different from this one, but both are good. There are aspects of Southern culture that I really like-- the food, the music, the literature. I hate the rest of it, though. I played this on our way to A's HS reunion last night, thinking it might help to psych her up. I think it did, somewhat.
Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, "Crocodile Man". More terrific guitar, and a snazzy lyric about being a grifter. "Thanksgiving dinner at the Top Hat Lounge"-- how cool is that?
The New Pornographers, "The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism". EGA tipped me to this band, who do it all right.
The Beautiful South, "Rotterdam (Or Anywhere)". This just slays me.
Tagging people with these things feels like assigning homework-- but if you're reading this, I'd like to see your list.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Yesterday I was struggling with emptying my pockets properly for some reason. The magnetometer beeped, and the Marshall wanded me, locating the source of the problem in my right jacket pocket. I reached in. "Oh, keys," I said, stupidly. "Yeah, I miss those wooden keys myself," said the Marshall. Now imagine that he sounded just like Art Carney as Ed Norton. I laughed to myself about it for the rest of the day.
Friday, July 22, 2005
"We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled. As more fully explained in our briefs, filed as amicus curiae, in Hodgson v. Minnesota, 110 S. Ct. 2926 (1990); Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 109 S. Ct. 3040 (1989); Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 476 U.S. 747 (1986); and City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 462 U.S. 416 (1983), the Court's conclusions in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion and that government has no compelling interest in protecting prenatal human life throughout pregnancy find no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution."
I'd ask, first, "Understanding that you were taking an advocacy position here, were you the principal author of this footnote?" A follow up might be, "Was the inclusion of this footnote a matter that you approved?" Actually, real cross could get you somewhere with this, but I'll buy you a cup of coffee and a doughnut if we see any real cross.
What I'd really want to know would be this: "In Rust the Court was asked to decide whether doctors and clinics that receive federal funds may discuss abortion with their patients. (Put another way, the question was whether, given the holding in Roe, the government could inject itself, by way of regulation, into the physician/patient relationship.) Given the undisputed fact that Roe was and remains the law of the land, and accepting that the principle of stare decisis requires deference to established law, how did the argument set forth in the footnote serve to advance the argument you were asserting?" I could ask this one a couple of different ways too.
I don't doubt that this cat is so much smarter than I am that he'd run circles around me in a classroom. Under oath, though, I'd be interested in hearing what he had to say. Because here's the thing-- Rust wasn't about whether Roe should be overturned-- it was a much narrower question, and arguing that the easy way to answer the question would just be to just change the law is pretty disingenious-- even in a footnote. Viet Dinh argues that that's not what the footnote says: "[It doesn't] even squarely say what the extreme liberal interest groups read [it] to say: namely, that the brief Roberts signed argues for overruling Roe v. Wade. Rather, these sentences simply point out as a statement of historical fact that the Department of Justice since 1983 had argued that Roe was wrongly decided." Dinh is being cute here, of course. I'll betcha a second doughnut that Judge Roberts is too smart to try to convince even somambulent sheep that are the Senate Democrats that he was just making a statement of historical fact.
As nominees go, I suppose we could have done worse. Apparently this guy is not an alien from space, or a zombie. He hasn't, as far as I know, advocated torture. He is from Buffalo, which was all John LaFalce had to know. (Words fail me. What the hell do you know about judges, LaFalce?) Roberts clerked with Judge Friendly, who was a modern Cardozo. Unless it turns out that he has an amphetamine lab in his rec room, he's the guy we are going to get.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Of course that assumes that Roberts is not ideological, which, in turn, implies a degree of trust in Bush that I can't seem to bring myself to muster. Bush hates my America-- why wouldn't he do everything in his power to destroy it?
When the Caravan retired, we decided that a subtler look was appropriate for our new short, but we wanted to retain a thumb in the eye insouciance. What we ended up with may have been almost too subtle-- certainly it was vintage. My sister-in-law, concededly a second grader in 1972, thought it was some sort of reference to the current Governor of California's wife. I'd sort of hoped that it would be available at the dealership as a regular Volvo accessory, but it turned out no, we had to go on e-Bay. I have a feeling that's where this one will end up, or that this is what the person who took it had in mind. Hilariously, they are abundant and inexpensive. They made them out of paper, back in the day, and I doubt that ours would have made it through the winter, but still, I am vexed and put out. The "George W. Bush: Worst 'President' Ever" sticker that I picked up last night as a placeholder is a pale substitute, lacking in verve and style.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
The Hon. John G. Roberts, Jr. (Harvard College, Harvard Law), shown here at his 1976 college yearbook best. Note the sideburns-- I'll bet Judge Rehnquist did at his clerkship interview. Timothy Noah reports that Roberts decided not to apply to Stanford Law School because his interviewer wore sandals. Good hair in the 70's, (nice jacket too), anti-sandals. And yet, I still don't trust the guy. This has "Trap" written all over it.
Funny thing about the moon-- for all of human history we've looked up at it. We sent men to walk on it-- maybe one of the greatest scientific accomplishments in history. Today, when we happen to see the moon it's almost like a surprise. We are cut off from nature just as we are cut off from our own history, I think. And I think that's a shame. Look up tonight. If you are old enough, remember what it felt like 36 years ago. (Boing Boing provided the Google Moon link. By all means zoom in.)
Monday, July 18, 2005
Maybe a darker top would be slimming. Of course, a dark top would cook me like the barbecued ham I resemble here, so maybe that would not be such a good plan. Also, I think I've decided that I hate these sunglasses.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
You'd think going into it that no Europeans would be a pretty good start, but it doesn't work out that way. The Arab world vies for control with the Chinese, and as far as I can tell, it seems as though things really aren't so different. Too bad for you if you are African, for example. There are still telephones, and religious fundamentalists. American Indians catch a break, but they are not really very central in the book.
Robinson seems to want to take the long view in his novels, but he doesn't want to let go of his characters. In the Mars books he accomplished this by making the characters develop technologies that extended their lives indefinitely. This was interesting, to a point, because he then had to deal with the question of what relationships between such long lived people would be like. In this one he decided to have his principals reincarnated on a regular basis. This is much less interesting, and worst of all is when he takes us with them into "the bardo", the in between place where souls wait to be reincarnated. The whole thing gets tangled in a pseudo-mysticism that detracts from the alternate history.
There is also a problem here with the way the style of the narrative changes. In the opening chapters Robinson uses cliffhanger endings and teaser paragraphs: "We know what happened next, but you will have to read on to find out." That sort of thing. It is done well, and really propelled me into the book, but he stops after a hundred pages or so, for no real reason that I can tell.
There are some interesting bits, and there are scenes of such stunning violence that I was actaully left a little breathless, but on the whole I'd have to say that it's been a long time since I was this disappointed withmyself for sticking with a book that was such obvious rubbish. I have toyed with the idea of starting Robinson's California trilogy-- I reckon I will continue to toy. Nothing about this book made me anxious to make the time investment
Friday, July 15, 2005
It's not like the list of prospective replacements would excite him. Emily Bazelon propounded a list of conservative judges who wouldn't be terrible nominees-- too bad we won't being seeing any of them. Judge Posner we all know-- I wonder how he'd find the time? I've appeared before the Hon. Reena Raggi, who was tough, but fair-- I'd say probably the best qualified for the job of anyone I've ever been before, actually. I've never understood the high regard that John Danforth is held in, but he beats the hell out of the "A List" names I've seen. Actually, any of Ms. Bazelon's names would work for me.
The Bush people smaking their lips over the prospect of appointing a Chief Justice was more than a little unseemly. They will probably get to fill at least one more seat, but they could have shown a little more class about it.
As a rule I love courthouses, but the federal courthouse in Central Islip is an exception: it's just about the most user unfriendly building I have ever been in. This is quite an accomplishment in the context of federal courthouses, which are not much about giving you the warm fuzzies in the first place, but this one is special. The cab pulled up and I shook my head, "G-d that's an ugly building." The cabbie laughed. "Give me a card so I can call for a ride when the judge is through yelling at me."
Incongruously named for Senator Alphonse D'Amato, the building sits in the middle of nowhere, just off the grounds of the old mental hospital. It is a big white box, with a lot of glass and a lot of fake ductwork on the outside, and a big oatmeal box shaped structure stuck on the front like a silo. If Frank Gehry designed barns, this is what they'd look like.
Inside there is the usual security checkpoint, staffed by marshals in blazers who are so bored they can't even muster the interest to be irritable. They take your phone, of course, and make you empty your pockets. For some reason you get to keep your shoes on when you go to federal court.
There are two magistrates with the same last name out in CI-- to further complicate things their initials are "M" and "J"-- the same initials that are used to indicate "Magistrate Judge". Of course they are on different floors, and naturally when you ask the cheery marshals they direct you to the wrong place.
There are dummy monitors in the lobby instead of a building directory, so the mis-information provided by the marshals is all you have to go on. You take the elevator up to what you know will be the wrong floor. The building is long-- about a city block long, with the elevator bank and a huge atrium dividing the two wings. There is another dummy monitor, and no other indication as to where the courtroom you are looking for might be, so you take your 50/50 shot, and guess wrong, every single time.
If there is an attorney's lounge I haven't found it yet. There is no wireless internet, and I'm sorry if complaining about that makes me sound like a big baby-- the effect of taking my phone and preventing me from getting on the net is that when I enter the building it means I have entered a gigantic time suck, where I will be able to accomplish nothing until the judge takes the bench, in his own sweet time, and starts picking on me.
Don't get me wrong-- I kind of like this judge, who seems to know what he's doing, and seems to have a sense of humor, but the Eastern District Courthouse in Central Islip experience, taken as a whole, is profoundly alienating. The interior of the building would not be out of place as a set on the Sci-Fi channel, with catwalks and more exposed ductwork. I wanted to shout, "Soylent Green is people!" but managed to restrain myself.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Monday, July 11, 2005
Can you think of a better summer? I'm not sure I can.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Classic New Orleans Remoulade Sauce:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped green onions (green and white parts)
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3 tablespoons Creole or other whole-grain mustard
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
I think I'd add some minced capers, too.
Friday, July 08, 2005
You know how you get a song stuck in your head? Right now I got a sandwich stuck in my head. This is what I want for lunch. Roast beef, cole slaw, Russian dressing. Looks like really nice bread, too. I can't think of where I would get this specific sandwich around here, though, and it is breaking my heart. Thanks to Looka! for the notion.
Ms. Archibald took the stage in a carefully preserved Buffalo Braves tee shirt and played a snappy set that included most of the stuff from their new CD. I secured a copy, and recommend it-- there really isn't a weak cut on it. Confidential to EGA: play this band-- or, better yet, bring them to NoHo. Buffalo Place-- what are these guys doing in a bar for afters? Put them on your stage!
I've yet to be steered wrong by a Christgau review. Last night continued that streak. I don't get the sense that they tour much-- in fact, I know they don't-- but if you get the chance, see them. And buy a CD.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
"[Pat]Robertson is one of the people in this dream I've had for 20 years, a nightmare I call "the handshake dream." In it, I am attending some G.O.P. all-star party. (A girl can dream.) And I have to decide whose hand I deign to shake. Bob Dole and John McCain: of course (war heroes). Orrin Hatch: fine (stem cells). But Robertson? He's always been a solid "No way!" as he sulks by the punch bowl with Strom."
Ms. Vowell is more forgiving than I am-- I might deign to poke Orrin Hatch with a stick, but that's as far as I'd go. I did meet Bob Dole once, in the late 70's. "Senator," my bearded, scruffy undergraduate self said, "You've been a hero of mine for some time." "Oh really?" he retorted, "What did I do wrong?" His retinue laughed, and I said, "I think you're the funniest Republican since Bob Hope." I didn't get a laugh. He moved on, but I meant it. Dole is what Republicans should be-- I'd be one if they were like Dole, instead of like Hatch, or Santorum. Republicans should be about freedom, not about who you have sex with, or how you express your political beliefs. Hatch falls squarely into the later camp, and the fact that I agree with him on stem cell research is disturbing to me. I've never agreed with him on anything before, and I wonder if this is his broken clock moment.
People make fun of you a lot, but they're stupid because you've
got a much better life than they do. In fact, they're probably just jealous.
You believe in crazy things like human rights and health care and not
dying in the streets, and you end up securing these rights for yourself and
others. If it weren't for your weird affection for ice hockey, you'd be
the perfect person.
the Country Quiz at the href="http://bluepyramid.org">Blue Pyramid
A may have dual citizenship rights, actually, a handy thing in these times. Given my druthers, I'd move to the Nederlands, but a Plan B is a good thing to have.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
My favorite part of the story is at the end: "Reich was not publicly charged until a month after his arrest in December 2003. During that time, according to information filed by both sides in pretrial motions, FBI agents pressed him to cooperate in an investigation of corruption of the state judiciary in Brooklyn.
"Reich, however, steadfastly claimed he had no knowledge of corruption to share with the agents."
Here is how it goes with corruption: the time you get caught is never the first time, and the first time never happens unless the culture of corruption is so pervasive that guys like Mr. Reich-- a man with $1.6 million in the bank-- a guy with everything to lose-- figures that since everyone is doing it, why not get in for a slice? Hilariously, being a referee is the sort of court appointed plum that is usually enough to satisfy smaller fry; you get to be a referee by being connected. It's nice light work that doesn't take any time out of your day, and you get a fee off the top. Judges get in trouble for doling the job out to their political pals.
A bad judge or a bad lawyer is like a rat in a house-- there's always more than the ones you see. The story doesn't say how many bribes he took, or how much they were for. My guess is Quite A Few and Just Enough To Sting respectively, but you never know-- he may have tried to gouge-- that's usually what gets you caught.
I promise you that a guy who was on the Judiciary Committee of the county bar association-- a gatekeeper function-- knows more than he is telling. You know what? Everybody in Brooklyn knows more than they are telling. They are just going to have to keep tearing up the floorboards at 360 Adams Street-- and be ready for when the rats come streaming out.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Bolivar is situated in the Southern Tier, near the Pennsyvania border. I knew that this region was where the oil and gas industry got its start in this country, but I didn't make the connection. At the turn of the last century this area was the center of the petroleum industry, so naturally it had a state of the art transportation infrastructure. It is interesting to contemplate this-- I'm sure most people have wondered what happens when the oil runs out, before they shake their heads and decide that thinking about it is too unpleasant. Well, here's an example of what happened in one place that had an extraction based economy that wrapped up: it turned into a pasture. This building is now a roller rink (or it was, before last week). Bolivar is the kind of town that doesn't have a McDonald's, but it has a pretty little golf course, and there are still people living there, doing whatever people who live in small towns do. It may be that when the rest of the oil is gone it will make economic sense to come back to Bolivar and extract whatever remains-- a hundred and fifty years after its glory days, a final burst of economic activity, before it reverts to woods and fields once and for all.
Monday, July 04, 2005
We dropped CLA off at camp, then continued on to Elmira to visit with T and S and their daughters, S and R. On the way back we stopped to investigate an accident scene for A. This is an old trolleycar electrical station located in Bolivar, New York. A truck took out that wall, but that's not the interesting part-- the interesting part is that there was a trolley car line in Bolivar, New York. It is as remote and empty a little town as you are going to find in New York State-- why was there a trolley line?
"In 1880 street transportation came to Olean, a year later than it had arrived at it’s neighboring city south, Bradford, PA. The horsecar line connected the downtown business district with the Erie Railroad Depot and was only 7,750 feet long. It was built to 3’6” gauge and operated until 1891 when a line was started on West State Street using standard gauge to prepare in advance for electric railway and connected Olean with Allegany. Permission to cross the Erie RR tracks was refused and the track ended opposite St. Bonaventure University. In 1893 the track was laid sufficiently to allow the first electric car to run and permission finally received to cross the Erie tracks and the service extended in 1894 to Allegany.
Three years later, in 1897 an inaugural run was made into Portville. In 1901 the railway proposed to extend this line to Bolivar in Allegany County. In 1902 construction started from Portville to Ceres and on to Bolivar. These extensions made it necessary to gain more electric power than the Olean plant could produce and a second electric generating station was built near Ceres. At this time, steam was furnished by a bank of boilers fired by natural gas. The Ceres plant was located adjacent to a 600 acre natural gas field owned by the railway. By 1908 a new station was built at the Ceres site to use the natural gas supply derived from the company’s wells and piped to the site. Power from this plant supplied direct current for the Bolivar & Shinglehouse branches. It is said that in 1904, service between Olean & Ceres was 40 minutes and 80 minutes to Bolivar from Olean."
I love the Internet.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Friday, July 01, 2005
I hope so. I look at the various short lists and I just shake my head.