Monday, October 31, 2005

Damn, That Was Ugly

Last year, DC United stumbled through the MLS regular season, finding their form just in time to roll through the playoffs and to their fourth MLS Cup title. This year, the regular season was more consistent and the team looked like a good bet to make it back to the MLS Cup final. Alas, it was not to be. A last season hiccup and very public bitch-session from 16-year old midfielder/soccer messiah Freddy Adu led to a dismal 0-0 draw with Chicago in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semis. And then came yesterday. Playing at home, in front of a wonderfully vocal and active crowd, DC got slammed by Chicago, 4-0. Not only did Chicago outplay us, they got inside our head, as evidence by Christian Gomez's lame brained red card in the second half.

As they say, wait 'til next year. At least I won't have to buy a new jersey next year with an added star.

From "Hand of God" to Argentina's Jay Leno

Today's New York Times has an interesting article about the current whereabouts of Argentine soccer sensation Diego Maradona. Maradona was the prototypical "number 10," a playmaking midfielder of great skill and vision through whom a team's offense ran. He led Argentina to the World Cup title in 1986, scoring the infamous "Hand of God" goal against England along the way. His life since then has been a roller coaster ride, largely driven by problems with cocaine. Now he's reinvented himself as a late-night talk show host on Argentinean TV. At least he seems to be doing things a bit differently:

During each program, Mr. Maradona interviews one of his half-dozen guests, most of whom come from Latin American show business or sports, for a segment called 'Mano a Mano.' On his first show, it was his Brazilian rival Pelé, but on Oct. 17, using video tricks, Mr. Maradona interviewed himself and frankly discussed his drug use, his rehabilitation, an illegitimate child he fathered in Italy and his political beliefs.
Too bad he seems to have fallen in love with Castro.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Scooter, We Hardly Knew Ye

So, ya' think Dubya's week could have been much worse? Yeah, I realize it's only one five-count indictment against a largely unknown political hack in the White House, but such a thing hasn't happened in 135 years, so it's certainly newsworthy. The worse news for Dubya and crew, however, is that the investigation doesn't appear to be over. Will Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove be next? Could Fitzgerald and his next grand jury put the White House out of business? Probably not, but it'll be interesting in the meantime. At the very least, watching the GOP spin this weekend trying to downplay the severity of perjury and obstruction of justice(those used to be high crimes, remember?) over the weekend.

If you're so inclined, you can read the indictment or the much briefer press release from the Special Counsel's office.

Oh, and the theme song for the day? Why, Zappa's "When the Lie's So Big," of course!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

My Kind of Judge

Today's Washington Post has an interesting article about Virginia trial court judge Ian M. O'Flaherty. Judge O'Flaherty is making a lot of waves in Virginia (and elsewhere) for refusing to go along with the state's presumption that a driver whose blood alcohol content is greater than 0.08 percent is "under the influence." By O'Flaherty's logic, that presumption, which is rebuttable, relieves the state of its burden to prove all elements of the offense of DUI. That violates a defendant's right to be convicted only if the state proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The fact that the BAC results essentially force a defendant to testify against himself doesn't help, either. Or, as Judge O'Flaherty puts it:

'The Fifth Amendment,' said O'Flaherty, 59, 'is an absolute protection against requiring the defendant to say or do anything in the course of a trial. . . . The Fifth Amendment means the defendant can sit there, not say or do anything, and at the end of the case say, 'Can I go home now?''
I'm not quite sure he's right, but I admire his guts for standing up and making an unpopular decision that he thinks is correct. Not all judges have that kind of backbone:
No other judge in Fairfax -- or elsewhere in Virginia, as far as can be determined -- has joined O'Flaherty. But the judge said some other jurists have told him they agree with him. 'I had one judge tell me, 'I'd rule that way, but I don't have the guts to,' ' O'Flaherty said. 'I told him, 'You should be driving a truck.' '
Amen, Judge. You know, Dubya's looking for a new Supreme Court nominee - you want a new job?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

If at First You Don't Succeed . . .

The Fifth Amendment provides that no person can be put "twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." That enshrines the ideal that when the government comes to get you, they only get one chance. They can't repeatedly try you for the same offense until they get the verdict they want (i.e., "guilty"). So if you're acquitted, it's over. But if you go to trial and the jury hangs, the government (generally) can take another shot at you.

That has not been the case in Federal death penalty prosecutions. In such cases, if a jury cannot unanimously decide a defendant is to be put to death, he or she receives life in prison. Doesn't matter if it's 1 holdout or 11. This has apparently rankled some Congresspeople, as the House has slipped an amendment onto its reauthorization of the Patriot ACT that would allow sentencing retrials in the case of a hung jury. The bill is the brainchild of Republican John Carter of Texas (State motto: "We execute more people before 9:00 a.m. than the rest of the world does all day!").

Even if the change would pass Constitutional muster, it doesn't sound like a very principled thing to do. But don't take it from me:

Sentencing deadlocks in federal capital trials are not unusual. In a federal terrorism trial in New York in 2001, for instance, the government sought the death penalty against two operatives of Al Qaeda for their roles in the deadly bombings of two American embassies in East Africa in 1998. The jury deadlocked 9 to 3 in favor of death in both cases, interviews conducted by The New York Times later revealed.

Mary Jo White, who was the United States attorney in Manhattan at the time, said the experience was frustrating. 'I respectfully disagreed with that jury,' she said.

But Ms. White said she opposed the provision in the House bill.

'I don't think the government should have two bites at that apple,' said Ms. White, who is now in private practice at Debevoise & Plimpton. 'There's something untoward about giving the impression that you're jury shopping for the death penalty.'

The bottom line is that the US is increasingly seeking the death penalty, even in states that don't have the ultimate punishment as part of their criminal law (like West Virginia), but aren't getting the verdicts they want. Maybe the proper response to that isn't to make it easier to line up more executions.

White House Declares War on Satire

Just when you thought the Dubya administration couldn't get any sillier, in the midst of rumors of indictments against senior White House staff, a string of poorly-handled natural disasters, and the 2000th US death in Iraq, where does the administration aim its firepower? The Onion. That's right, the paragon of satiric virtue is in trouble with the White House for using the Presidential seal for comedic purposes. A White House spokesman, who assures us that folks there do have a sense of humor, comments, "[i]t's important that the seal or any White House insignia not be used inappropriately." Gee, I can't think that the Government telling a satirical newspaper that its use of a seal was "inappropriate" would run afoul of the First Amendment, would you?

Of course, to be fair, the site in question (thanks to a friend for the link) does look to be part of the actual White House site (lots of links go there), but the disclaimer that "This web site is not intended for viewers under voting age" should be a good indication that something is up. Unless Dubya cusses like a sailor during his radio addresses (or Cheney does it for him).

If the War on Terra is any indication, I don't think The Onion has anything to worry about from this attack.

But What About the Halftime Show?

I enjoy sporting events precisely because they are sporting events, not excuses for what passes for entertainment or art to have the world stage for a few fleeting minutes. They're generally awful, anyway, and can't even be saved by the stray flash of tit here and there. So I tend to pass on things like the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies and focus on the competition itself. Thankfully, the World Cup has avoided such silliness, until 2006. FIFA is staging a grand opening ceremony, to take place before the first match in Germany.

While that sounds like a waste to me, I'm at least intrigued by their choice of artist to run the show: Peter Gabriel. If anybody can do a lavish visual spectacle that actually has some interesting musical bits, it's Gabriel. Hell, it would make the perfect stage for the much talked about Genesis reunion, wouldn't it? But aside from that, I can think of several tunes Gabriel could work into the show: a slightly reworked "Here Comes the Flood (of Goals);" depending on how the minnows are predicted to do, either "Downside Up" or "Mercy Street;" if Freddy Adu makes it into the US squad by Germany, maybe "Growing Up," unless he's having a spat with Bruce Arena, in which case "Come Talk to Me" would be more appropriate. And, of course, the whole thing must end with all the referees lined up for a rousing version of "In Your Eyes."

The soundtrack for the post was provided by, you guessed it, PG's very cool Growing Up Live DVD!

You Are There! Well, Not Quite . . .

Here is a fabulously funny website full of screenshots of what it would have been like if Fox News had been around throughout history. Famous historical scenes are accompanied by such Fox-like headlines as "Negros Attack Police, Demand Special Rights" and "Stiff Resistance at Thermoylae" (wherein Xerxes declares "We didn't expect such stiff resistance to our awesome attack"). And, of course, there's O'Reilly's "Talking Point" defending slavery.

I Picked the Wrong Field of Law

Who knew that patent disputes could be so, um, stimulating. Salon has a fascinating article (available for free if you watch an ad) about an ongoing patent dispute involving the "legendary Pleasure Plus" condom. Introduced to the world 15 years ago by an Indian doctor and condom engineer, he lost the rights to the patent when his company went bankrupt. Never mind, he's designed similar pieces for other companies, who are now being sued by the holder of the original patent.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I Knew This Would Happen!

Frequently in the ongoing battle between church and state, secularists will try and call the fundies' bluff by arguing that if a school or some other public entity was doing what ever they were doing with Islam or Buddhism rather than Christianity, the fundies would change their tune. "Oh no," they say, seeming perfectly sincere. But, of course, real life isn't like that. Consider a case argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week.

It involves a school district that, during a unit on Muslims, had the kids "adopt Muslim names and recite language from prayers." Not surprisingly, some Christian parents objected, arguing that this was "indoctrination" that "as seen through the eyes of vulnerable students, crossed the line into an unconstitutional endorsement of religion." Wait, you mean the same kids (California kids, at least) who are so strong and in control of their individual identities that they can stand being singled out for not saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning?

The bottom line, according to the parents' attorney was "[t]he children were supposed to become Muslims. They were acting as a Muslim would act." And that's the rub, isn't it? That little Johnny Biblethumper will come home one day praising Allah. If that concerns these parents, why don't the worry that atheist or agnostic children might feel that they "were supposed to become Christians" and were "acting as a Christian would act?"

Is a little consistency too much to ask, people?

I Bet Irony Hurts

You rarely see something as perfectly ironic happen in real life as this dog-bites-man story:

The author of a new state law that allows felony charges against owners of
dangerous dogs was hospitalized over the weekend after his own dog attacked him.
Maybe the dog wasn't getting satisfaction from the normal political process?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"And the things that we fear / Are a weapon to be held against us . . ."

Today's USA Today has a really interesting column from an NYU physician about what he called the "fear epidemic" in which this country seems to constatnly find itself. The specific topic for the piece is the potential avian flu pandemic, the latest in a constant string of things that go bump in the night on a global scale after 9/11. The point is that we often fear the more remote danger while worrying enough about things that might actually harm us. Of course, given the current administration's reliance on fear as a political tool, that's not surprising.


Remember that post yesterday about the beginning of the trial of Saddam Hussein? Well, never mind. After apearing in court and having a "not guilty" plea entered for him, Hussein's trial was continued until late November. Not that it was your average arraignment-style hearing, mind you:

Asked to confirm his name by the chief judge, Rizgar Mohammed Amin, a Kurd, Saddam Hussein refused.

Amid some verbal sparring with the judge, the former Iraqi leader stated: 'I preserve my constitutional rights as the president of Iraq. I do not recognise the body that has authorised you and I don't recognise this aggression.

'What is based on injustice is unjust ... I do not respond to this so-called court, with all due respect.'
Wonder if the flags have the wrong fringe on them? Meanwhile, opinion on the trial in Iraq itself is, not surpisingly, mixed:
In Dujail [the site of the first alleged attrocity for which Hussein will be tried], a few demonstrators gathered in the main square chanting: 'Saddam Hussein should be executed, him and his whole family.'

But in the former leader's home town of Tikrit, supporters vowed loyalty to Saddam Hussein with a banner saying: 'We sacrifice our blood and soul for you, Saddam.'
Change of venue, anybody?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Talk About a Tough Client

One of the first lessons of trial advocacy is to try and humanize your client for the jury. Don't let the prosecution define him as a monster, define him yourself as a human being (albeit a deeply flawed one, perhaps). But imagine representing Saddam Hussein. Hussein's first (of many, possibly) trials is set to start tomorrow in Baghdad. USA Today has a lengthy article today in which it sets forth the charge and procedures for this trial, as well as the significant criticism from some in the international community about the trial. In rebuttal, the paper has another commentator who urges the international community to be more supportive of Iraq dealing with its own problem without resorting to a Yugoslav-style international tribunal.

As for humanizing Saddam, I'm not sure I'm that good of an advocate. Not because of what he is charged with doing, but because every time I see the man I picture him in a lover's quarrel with Satan from the South Park movie!

This Is Just Ridiculous

I hope that someday soccer in this country will be a big enough sport to compel better TV coverage, a larger and more vibrant group of supporters (for clubs and country), and secure the unemployment of Jim Rome. But until then, there are still times when I'm glad my favorite team sport hasn't been infested by the huge amounts of money (in this country, at least) as the NFL or NBA. Times like this. The NBA recently instituted a dress code for its players when they are not in a game but still on "company time." The players don't appear to be too pleased about the new rules, for which, in general, I am sympathetic. But then you read stuff like this:

Denver Nuggets center Marcus Camby and Charlotte Bobcats guard Brevin Knight said that if the league wants to institute a dress code that players should receive stipends or vouchers to offset clothing costs.
Are you kidding me?!?! The minimum salary in the NBA for incoming rookies is $385,000. if you can't spend a little of that down at the local Big & Tall store to make your bosses happy, you're just a complete and abject loser.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Your War on Drugs

Remember last summer, at the end of the Supreme Court's term, when the decision in Raich was handed down a lots of law enforcement officials said that they had no desire to vigorously go after medical pot users? Well, that was horseshit. Consider this tale of Steven Tuck, a veteran who grew his own pot which he used to treat chronic pain from a variety of sources. He fled to Canada in 2001 after his pot patch was raided. Last week, Canadian authorities, acting on behalf of your US government, was taken from a hospital and dragged before a US court for prosecution. As if that weren't enough:

Tuck then went five days with no medical treatment and only ibuprofen for the pain, the attorney said.

Tuck, 38, was still fitted with the urinary catheter when he shuffled into federal court Wednesday for a detention hearing Wednesday.

It gets worse:

U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue ordered Tuck temporarily released so he could be taken to a hospital for treatment. But by the time Donohoe issued his order, King County Jail officials had received a detainment request from Humboldt County, California, so Tuck was not released Wednesday, Hiatt said.
Certainly sounds like a fine use of my tax dollars.

I've Never Had It This Bad (Not Yet, at Least)

Trial attorneys like to think they're tough - engaging in gladiatorial combat on behalf of their clients in full view of a jury, judge, and assorted lookers on. But that's nothing compared to the emotional crucible that is appellate argument - going toe to toe with several smart, experienced, and (sometimes) pissed off judges who are looking for any reason to shoot your best argument down. Don't believe me? Last week in California, one advocate got battered so much that he collapsed in court:

[Judge Corrigan] and [Judge] Pollak also seemed infuriated by Olson's suggestion that it should be implicit in all health care contracts that they are deemed invalid if insurers later find out they don't have the statutory authority to provide that particular coverage.

'Have you got a case where that was actually the holding?' Pollak asked.

Olson said he didn't have one 'at the tip of my tongue.'

Olson then tried to compare Health Net's situation to that of a person trying to practice law without authorization. 'It's about whether you can continue to perform,' he argued.

Corrigan stopped Olson short and asked if he 'really wants to go down this road.'

A second or two passed, then Olson said, 'Excuse me, your honor,' before crumpling to the floor. Several spectators gasped, while others ran for help.
As for the sympathies of your adversaries:
Terrence Coleman and Arnold Levinson, partners at Pillsbury & Levinson representing the lawyers' association, never got an opportunity to make their case. But afterward they said the justices' questions indicated that victory would be theirs.
You think?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Killing Hitler, Aborting Stalin

A friend of mine sent me this story from CNN about a nasty turn in the increasingly heated governor's race next door in Virginia. Supposedly the Democratic candidate has professed before that his anti-death penalty stance is principled enough that, were it up to him, he would not have executed Hitler, Stalin, or any other of the world's great bastards. This has led his Republican rival to charge that the Dem is "soft" on crime, or some such nonsense, because of that position. Sadly, the Dem will probably fold like a tent when actually forced to deal with the issue. If he's got some backbone, I'd like to se him ask his challenger a question like this:

Yes, I oppose the death penalty. It's not particularly relevant to the office I'm seeking, as I'd have no choice under Virginia law but to impose that punishment when the law called for it. But I do, in principle, think that executing other human beings is immoral. In much the same way, I believe, sir, that you believe that abortion is the taking of a human life and thus immoral. So, Mr. GOP, would you have aborted Hitler or Stalin and spared the world their atrocities?
There is no good answer to that question for a pro-lifer (it's sort of the equivalent to "when did you stop beating your wife?"). If he admits that he is principled enough to have not aborted Hitler or Stalin (who were, at that point, innocent, after all), it pretty much destroys the "soft on crime" angle on the death penalty. If he says he would have aborted them, than it shows him to be a hypocrite on basic moral issues, willing to bend his "principles" to certain cases. I think the fundies call that "moral relativism" and it's evil!!!

But that won't happen. Instead we'll just have to be content with the truth of my friend's comment to me: "Republicans can be such assholes . . ."

UPDATE: The Roanoke Times has this article on the controversy that gives a little more background.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sinister Footwear

My shoes have been on trial for the past two days.

You see, one of the rights a defendant has when going to trial is to not appear in front of the jury in a jail jumpsuit (either a lovely orange or the classic black/white in this area). That's assuming the defendant is in jail in the first place. Anyway, unlike the provision of an attorney at the expense of the state, defendants in that situation don't get a clothing allowance. So we sometimes have to scrimp to put together an outfit of "street clothes" for a client who goes to trial. One such gentlemen went to trial this week on counterfeiting charges. Unable to round up any shoes for him, I volunteered a backup pair of dress shoes to the cause. Hell, they've seen more time in court in the past two days than I have in three years!

Unfortunately, the verdict was guilty. I'm not sure what that says about the shoes.

Pot Still Makes You Stupid

I've written before about particularly dumb crooks who had problems with marijuana. Add another one to the file:

A Hanover Township man was accused Tuesday of smoking marijuana inside the Luzerne County Courthouse. Nicholai Cinchock, 27, Brown Street, was observed by Deputy Sheriff Ryan Maye allegedly smoking marijuana inside the men’s restroom on the third floor.
He was at the courthouse for a hearing on "unrelated" drug and theft charges. They're related in at least one way - I'm sure that one of the conditions of Cinchock's bond was to not use drugs! Thus, he's now spending time at the service of the state awaiting trial.

Only Eight Months 'til Germany

With a host of games in the Americas and Europe yesterday, the field for next year's World Cup Finals in Germany is almost complete. The US won their last match, 2-0 over Panama, to come out tops in CONCACAF, besting rivals Mexico. Ah, that sounds sweet! :) In all, 27 countries have booked their place in Germany, with five more to be decided in playoffs on November 12 and 16. The draw is in December.

OK, Maybe There Is a God

The best evidence? Our long national nightmare has finally come to an end.

Hallelujah! Can I get a witness?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Absence of the God

Today's USA Today has a series of articles (in the "Life" section, of all places) about the evolution v. "intelligent design" controversy. Among the interesting bits to me is this quote, from an article called "If You Don't Have God at the Beginning . . . The Creationists:"

No creator God means no redeemer God, hence no need for Jesus to die for humankind on the cross. For evangelist Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, who titled one of her many books Just Give Me Jesus, that would be the starkest tragedy imaginable.

'If you believe you evolved, you say your life is an accident, maybe even a mistake. You have come from nowhere. You are going nowhere, and your life has no eternal purpose. You don't belong to anyone, and you have no accounting to give to anyone.'

I've never quite grasped this argument. Believes certainly think that life is given meaning by God, doing Her will, and, hopefully, receiving Her gift of eternal life after death. But why does an absence of all that leave a life without meaning? I don't believe in any of that stuff, but find my life to be very meaningful. In fact, the thought that there is nothing beyond this life makes me value my time on the Earth all the more because that's all there is. If you only get one chance at life, you're more concerned with getting it "right" the first time, I think.

Champ Car's New Era

You've got to hand it to Kevin Kalvoven and crew. They've taken a race series that was completely on life support (and headed to Oregon to end it all) and put it back on the right track, so to speak. Part of their vision was a spec chassis and engine, to both keep costs down and ensure competitive balance. For the past two years, that's meant Cosworth V-8s and left over Lola (mostly) chassis from Champ Car's glory days.

I'm not really a fan of that ideal, particularly for what bills itself as as top-level race series, but it has produced some really interesting racing. And now, Champ Car is ready to take the next step down that road with a purpose-built spec Champ Car. Cosworth V-8s will continue to provide power, but the chassis will be built by Panoz (nee Elan Motorsports Technologies). The new package will be lighter and narrower than the current cars and have a revised aero setup, to provide better passing opportunities. I wish they'd have taken some suggestions from a recent Racer magazine piece and rounded off some of the car's edges and widened the bodywork a bit, to help avoid cut tires and wheel-to-wheel contact. Nonetheless, it's a solid step forward for Champ Car. The car debuts for the 2007 season.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Free Speech or Friendly Skies?

A friend of mine pointed out this story from Nevada, which tells of a woman who was asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight last week because of an "offensive" t-shirt. The shirt was a takeoff on Meet the Fokkers and included pictures of Dubya and Cheney in addition to changing the family name to "Fuckers." Airline officials said that other passengers complained, although it's not clear whether the complaints were about the language or the political message. The woman plans to sue, but I'm not sure she'll get very far. I wonder what type of First Amendment rights you have on a common carrier like an airline?

This Sounds Familiar

Today's USA Today has an interesting story of secular political groups struggling to keep down the influence of religious fundamentalists. The ACLU or Americans United for the Separation of Church and State vs. the GOP? Nope, it's the ongoing struggle for democracy in Iraq. The influence of the religious parties in occupied Iraq are so egregious that "Iraqi politics under the U.S. occupation are worse than Saddam, they say, creating a situation in which religious factions fuel violence and ordinary Iraqis suffer." What a success story to show the rest of the Middle East.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

More Death in Oregon

Yesterday, the Supreme Court took up the first big controversial case of CJ Roberts's reign, Gonzalez v. Oregon. The issue is whether the Attorney General can yank the DEA drug licenses of doctors who prescribe lethal drugs in accordance with Oregon's Death With Dignity Act. It may not be over anytime soon. As this report from the New York Times points out, the court looks to be very evenly divided with, guess who, O'Connor as a possible swing vote. If her replacement is confirmed before a decision is made, the 4-4 split may prompt the Court to have another round of oral arguments. Of course, it might not be that close in the end, anyway.

In another commentary on the argument, Tom Goldstein over at SCOTUSBlog has this interesting note after watching Roberts in action:

Note to Rick Garnett and other states-rights conservatives: told you so; the federalism "revolution" was actually more of a "petty insurrection" and George Bush has now officially put it down with the change from Rehnquist to Roberts. Sorry

Suppose Scalia cries himself to sleep at night listening to "La Resistance Lives On" from this fine piece of satire.

And finally, for a more personal perspective on what's at stake, see this commentary in Tuesday's USA Today by the wife of a man who used the Death With Dignity Act to, well, die with dignity.

Same River, Different Planets

Today's New York Times has a fascinating article on two raft trips through the Grand canyon. One trip was organized by Tom Vail, a young-Earth creationist, who showed his raftload of true believers what he says is evidence that the planet is only 6000 years old and the Grand Canyon was formed by the great flood of the Bible. The other was organized by the National Center for Science Education, it consists of scientists and teachers, most of them non-believers, who are shown how the Grand Canyon actually supports a quite different scenario. It's somewhat frightening that two groups of people can see the same thing and come to such completely different conclusions about it. Sheds a little bit of light on the Scopes II proceedings.

I Wonder If the ADA Covers This

When conservatives rail at the socialist welfare states of Western Europe, they generally mean countries that provide socialized medicine and other large-scale public benefits programs. They probably aren't thinking of the government paying for hookers. But that's what one Danish man is seeking. He has cerebral palsy and mostly limited to his home, so he wants the government to pay the extra charge that hookers charge to come to his house (since he can't go to the brothel). But the most interesting piece of the story (to me, at least) is this:

In Denmark, prostitution and other forms of sex work are not illegal so long as it is not a woman's sole means of income.
So you can only moonlight as a hooker in the land of Hamlet. Interesting.

How Did I Miss This?

This is what I get for fixating on the Weekly World News when I'm in the checkout line at Kroger's. Earlier this week, Findlaw's Julie Hilden wrote about whether Dubya could and should successfully sue The National Enquirer for libel. Apparently the Enquirer ran a story claiming that Dubya is drinking again. Recall that he made a big deal out of quitting cold turkey when he hit 40. Hilden concludes that a suit by Dubya is unlikely to be successful.

Monday, October 03, 2005

And You Think F1 Is Expensive!

The really big budget F1 teams, Ferrari and Toyota in particular, spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on their programs (with various degrees of success). As mind blowing as those amounts are, at least F1 cars are limited to screaming across the Earth's surface. Those budgets will probably be dwarfed by those involved in the newly founded Rocket Racing League. The money and brains behind the RRL comes from X-Prize founder Dr. Peter H. Diamandis and Granger Whitelaw, "two-time Indianapolis 500 champion team partner." Today's press release describes the concept:

Rocket races will operate much like auto races, with the exception that the "track" is up in the sky. Courses are expected to be approximately two miles long, one mile wide, and about 5,000 feet high, running perpendicularly to spectators. The rocket planes, called X-Racers, will take off from a runway both in a staggered fashion and side-by side and fly a course based on the design of a Grand Prix competition, with long straight-aways, vertical ascents, and deep banks. Each pilot will follow his or her own virtual "tunnel" or "track" of space through which to fly, safely separated from their competitors by a few hundred feet.
Seems to me like a two-mile course might be a little short for "rocket races," but what do I know?